"For more than seven years, we've studied how the great user experience teams succeed. We've looked at a variety of variables to isolate what it takes. We've looked at management structure, employed methodologies, best practices, and hiring qualifications. We've looked at team communication techniques, requirement gathering techniques, the target industry, and the geographic location. All said, we've inspected about 250 different variables for dozens of organizations across a wide variety of industries, educational institutions, and government.
As with most things, most variables don't play a role. However, we found three key variables as being critically important: vision, feedback, and culture. Using these three variables, we've created corresponding questions to help us quickly rate a team's experience design prowess. Teams that answer these questions well are far more likely to create great experiences than the rest of the pack.
Factor #1: Understanding the purpose of vision
Here's the first question we ask: "Does everyone on your team know what the experience will be like interacting with your offerings five years from now?"
When the answer is affirmative, any team member can describe what the user's experience will be like in five years. They'll tell us a story, like this real one from a century-old insurance company:
"An insured home and car owner, having just had a tree fall on their garage, will log into the site, explain the damage, upload pictures, and get initial claim approval to start temporary repairs and get a rental car—all within a few minutes. Within the next 24 hours, inspection appointments and a detailed damage assessment are scheduled and reviewed, and the repairs are underway within 48 hours. All the payments are handled electronically from the insurance company, with a single NET-60 bill sent to the policy holder for the deductibles."
This story is an experience vision. It outlines how the person, in this case someone who insures both their home and car with the company, can make a joint claim and quickly start the recovery process. Notice that the story doesn't describe the specifics of the design or the system -- that's not important. What's important is understanding the experience of the policy holder.
While this particular story may not sound that interesting or difficult to someone outside, for this organization it's a radical departure from today's experience. Their business units currently don't talk to each other and pretend that customers don't exist beyond their own individual products. So, this integrated vision shows a radical departure and eliminates much of the frustration caused by today's organizational reality. For this organization, five years is aggressive for the substantial, under-the-covers changes that this vision will require.
We like looking five-years ahead because it gets beyond the immediate reactive requirements and starts considering what a great experience could be. If we only looked one year ahead, we'd be stuck with the current realities. If we look too far out, we get into the realm of science fiction." (Continued via UIE, Jared Spool) [Usability Resources]