I’d like to talk about sketching user experiences in a little more detail than we have in the past. We’ve touched briefly on flow charting and business process mapping, but have I ever really talked in detail about why it’s important and what factors should go into play? There’s a conundrum you’ve no doubt encountered at least once in your career, where you need to make your design meet a business plan, rather than crafting a business plan around a design. This is more common in big businesses and startups, but less so in higher sized SMBs. It’s odd how this convergence happened, but, that’s how the dice fell, and that’s how we have to approach this.
What do you have to consider when sketching user experiences? If you have a business model, then you likely have a demographic already picked out, defined most likely by price range and niche of the design. In this case, the first thing to factor is this demographic. How much are they paying, and how do you, through forecasting by intimate understanding of said demographic, see them expecting from one moment to the next when interacting with this user experience?
The thing to factor here is whether or not what they expect aligns with the price they are willing to pay. Half of the time it won’t and either experience or affordability has to take a small hit for the team. In this case, I’ll say which one is up to you, but I honestly recommend price to go up rather than quality go down.
Another thing to factor in is feature maintenance and support budget, which you have to design to flow with this existing budget as well. Remember, overhead has to pass to someone, and unfortunately, this will often be the customer. The ultimate place we seem to be arriving at here is that for UX to be excellent, price has to be a little higher. Good UX costs money, but customers know this, and customers see it as a worthy expense most of the time.
So, when you sketch out your user experience, remember to prioritize a flow of how the demographic should perceive the experience through the chains of processes, and itemize each node by the expense to make it work in the perceived way, and make sure the resulting numbers aren’t in the negatives. Also, emphasize connection with maintenance sub-flows for each of these components, and link these to resource availability too, and again, aim for no negative numbers anywhere. This flow will also let you see where numbers are justifiably amplified.
So, now you understand what’s involved in sketching user experiences when you have to design for a business model. It’s not so complicated, is it? It’s all about flowing out a proposed process on paper, and tracking deductions, based on intuitive case design and prediction, and ensuring the UX works the way it is expected for the price that is paid. It’s a bit of a greedy angle, but sometimes greed is good.