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An extremely basic question I realise. If we use Jesse James Garrett's diagram which is comprised of visual design, navigation design, information design, interaction design, information architecture, content requirements and user needs/site objectives. Where does UX strategy come in with the other disciplines? Is it overarching? Is it the thinking aspect as you plan how you will approach a problem? or is it more about the way in which you work as a UX practitioner?

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I think you need to be much more descriptive of your base assumptions and interests. The initial format of the description is probably too vague to be useful here. Maybe you should make a chart, or lists, comparing the elements you think composes each of the disciplines you name. Since you're making a 'community discussion' question, ante up by getting it rolling. –  New Alexandria Aug 16 '13 at 13:17
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I assume you're referencing this diagram of Garrett's. enter image description here

If you read Garrett's book about that diagram, you'll find that he has already aligned that diagram with another showing the stage at which strategy occurs: enter image description here

...so strategy is the first step, occurring when you're determining user needs and laying out objectives.

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User Experience strategy is about taking the information about the user and information about the business and turning that into an approach for the User Experience. It overlaps with the role of a good Business Analysis and will often involve:

  • Business Strategy
  • Existing best practice / competitor reviews.
  • Existing behavior analysis from stats and from one to one interviews.
  • Task analysis from above .e.g. personas.
  • Prioritisation of project goals / features.
  • Content strategy
  • Other stuff usually involving a lot of diagrams, power point and spreadsheets.

It's the stuff at the heart of what UX is about and separates UX from interaction design and UI only roles.

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Strategy is the path between vision and execution.

UX Strategy is about defining what kind of experience you want. For example Apple claims that they start with "How they want people to feel" when they start the design.

Strategy then gets into a plan to get to there.. for example doing away with skeumorphic design in favor of a flat design, focussing more in typography to bring more simplicity. In case of Microsoft they focussed more on engagement with the live-tiles design. Android design focusses more on customizability.

In case one goes beyond a product, it opens up more possibilities. My favorite example is when Shimano came to IDEO with a problem that their business was going slow. Shimano manufactures bicycle parts. When IDEO did the research they identified the reason why Simano's busines was impacted was because people were not buying bikes. They researched the reason why people were not buying bikes and found that the strategy was to redesign the bike and the retail experience. Not something that Shimano had direct control over, but in the expereince was broken at those two very key places in the customer's lifecyle and the strategy defined how to fix them.

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Another way to think about this is to look at applying the UX approach and practice at different levels within the organization:

  • Strategy - working with other sections of the business to achieve a common UX objective, so that could be for example working with the BI team to capture and process usage statistics that feed into product design team decisions.
  • Management - working with other teams or members of the organization to achieve a common UX objective, which could be working on a style guide for a particular product that allows the consistent application of a desired look and feel.
  • Execution - working individually or very small teams to carry out a specific task that solves a particular UX design problem, for example trying to optimize the design of the login page to reduce the bounce rate.

Of course, there is no real definition of what strategy means, but there are many ways to think about what it means and how it fits within different organizations. That's the good thing about UX being a philosophy and not a prescribed methodology, in the same way that Agile is not about the tools but the (thinking) process.

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