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We're building an internal tool for helping folks utilize user experience in their projects. We're looking at it from two directions--one direction, easier, is "Hey, I need a wireframe, where can I learn about doing a wireframe, see examples of wireframes for our products, etc". Or, "Hey, what the heck is a journey map, and what does our UX team do to create a journey map". So that part's easy, and we've that part implemented, or at least started.

The harder part is coming at it from basically the opposite direction, if you think of it as an algebra problem. So right now we know how to solve for X, where X = Y * (0.5xT).

But what if, instead of the user knowing Y and T, they know X and Y? What do I mean? Well, what if they know where they are, and what they're stuck on or trying to accomplish, but not how to get there? They don't know the NOUN of the thing they need...

Example: I'm a product owner, and I have received 6 user requests, in varying contexts, to update our labels system in our application. And it's an existing, deployed application, with an existing customer base. And I'm trying to get something to put up on the backlog for development.

So, I know where I am now (existing app, feedback from users), I know where I need to get (stories in a back log), but I don't know how to get there (In this case, the missing T from the equation example).

Well, as a user experience designer, I can make suggestions about surveying users, I can suggest they build a prototype, or do a task analysis, or document the user flow. I can help them with those things, I can point them to the information in our site about those things, etc.

As a product owner (at least where I am), however, I don't know what I don't know :) I don't know the language, so to speak.

So I've been asked to Solve for T. How do I allow someone to give me the context of where they are, and where they're trying to go, and make suggestions that then drive them to the appropriate documentation (and more implortantly, to asking us how we can help).

I know we'll have to map this stuff out--so, given X = start of project and T = who are my users, then I know that Y = personas or task analysis, etc.

Another way to put it--given the Suppliers, Input, and Consumers, what are the Processes and Output (where SIPOC --> Suppliers give Input to a Process, producing an Output given to a Consumer).

This already helps me clear my head a bit on the topic, but I want to see what others think on the subject as well.

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I understand the question you are asking but think that it may be hard to give a generic one-size-fits-all answer.

The UX workflow from company to company is so vast that what you ultimately decide to go with will require a lot of user research. On top of that, the workflow from product to product and even person to person is never the same (a real eye opener when I started doing user research with other developers)

That said I have one suggestion that I think you might be able to tweak until it works for your situation.

Write out the equation in a format where each part can be changed independently by the user.

I am a _________, I have _________, I need to do _________

  1. they can say who they are and then the options for what they can have or do are filtered appropriately

  2. they can choose what they already have and the options for what's left to do update accordingly

  3. if they know what they need to do then they can choose it and be given direct links on how to do it

This approach assumes that there is a known finite set of options for each variable in the equation.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

  • 100% agree with what you're saying. What I'm really hoping we accomplish is that we are STARTING conversations with this type of tool--not ending them or avoiding them :) Having said that, your thoughts on it definitely help me refine what is going on in my head. In fact, just the process of asking the question has helped me 'focus the lens' so to speak, although I hadn't looked at the 'I am' approach--which is awesome! Thanks for your input. – Mike Earley Jan 14 '15 at 13:34

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