Toward a user experience strategy
ARTS & FARCES has specialized in user experience for many years, but I’ve been reluctant to write much about the topic. For a variety of reasons, that’s changing now and I’m adding a new “User experience” section to Hasten down the wire.
What better way to kick-off the new section than to publish the basic process the company has been using for more than 30 years to architect information, first in video and print and now most recently on the web. The process has evolved over the years and while I’ll begin with a brief skeleton, my intention is to expand it using the Toward a user experience strategy section of Hasten down the wiki and eventually publish it as a book-length work.
Important note: This is a work in progress, an attempt to make years of notes understandable to a broad audience. I’ll be adding to it regularly, as time allows, so bookmark it and come back often. In a break from my usual practice of being fully transparent in changes made after initial publication, I’m just going to integrate changes and additions into this article in order to keep it easier to read.
First a word about “experts” and expertise.
I’m a fan of Malcolm Gladwell‘s work. In his book
Blink Outliers, which opens with a story about an apparently ancient marble statue. When the statue is evaluated by experts in Greek sculpture, each determined it was a fake without any evidence—scientific or otherwise—except their individual expertise. The experts were able to make their determination simply by looking at the statue. Furthermore, the experts were unable to explain how they reached their determination, they just knew.
The experts were able to do this because each of them had individually spent thousands of hours refining their skills and sharpening their instincts through research and practice. The experts had studied their craft to such an extent that each of them was able to make an accurate determination almost instantly.
Gladwell’s book is about rapid cognition: Thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. This isn’t about intuition (in fact, the word “intuition” never appears in Blink) but it’s not entirely rational, either.
Gladwell investigates the properties of high levels of success. The core of Gladwell’s investigation is the “10,000-hour rule,” finding that the key to success is a matter of practicing a specific task for about 10,000 hours. Or about 10.5 years (10,000 / 4 hours per day / 240 average working days per year = 10.416666666666667). Gladwell puts it at 20 hours of work each week for 10 years.
Even though I’ve been a practicing user experience professional for many more than 10 years, I’m not sure I’m an expert (I certainly hope not). I just know certain things, but I’m still practicing. I offer this process with the caveat that it’s worked successfully for ARTS & FARCES over the years, your mileage may vary. Got something better or improvements for mine? Let’s hear them.
ARTS & FARCES user experience process cycle.
User experience strategy phases
- Conduct initial decision maker meeting
- Conduct user research
- Plan content strategy
- Define information architecture
- Define visual design
- Establish editorial policy
- Write and edit content
- Implement website
- Conduct usability testing
- Plan and implement website monitoring and maintenance
- Rinse and repeat
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