“What makes an experience vision work is a great story. A great story isn’t just heard, it’s also told. It’s passed on.”

Jared Spool, writer & founder of User Interface Engineering (UIE)

Experience Visions

To survive in the fast and sometimes ruthless technology sector, we constantly need to ask ourselves if we’re heading in the right direction. Are we one step ahead of our competitors? Are we satisfying our users and are we adapting quickly enough to emerging needs in the market? We need to constantly and quickly adapt, deliver real value and walk towards a shared company goal. What can help a UX and product teams in this endeavour is a clear experience vision.

What are experience visions? 

A few PUXies recently joined a webinar by Jared Spool - a UX strategist with a great set of knowledge - who was talking about the very interesting and important topic of experience visions. 

Experience visions describe the experience users have with our products and services in the future and make them tangible by putting them into stories. Basically, it’s visualising vividly and in some depth how people feel, what they experience and which of their needs are satisfied when using our future product.   

One very good example of an experience vision is the “knowledge navigator” from Apple in 1987. In a short video clip (see here), Apple described 34 years ago what the experience with their products could look like in the future. And guess what? Many of their ideas are now what we experience when using technology everyday: Video calls, easy access to information on portable devices and even the internet. But experience visions don’t have to be so fancy. Another good but rather dry example is from an insurance company (you can find  it in this article by Jared Spool). 



A flag in the sand

What makes experience visions so powerful are the stories and the contagiousness associated with great stories. Everyone in the company is heading in the same direction. Jared Spool gave this very intriguing picture of an experience vision as a flag in the sand. The company defines at one point in time how the experience vision looks like and everyone walks in this direction. While marching towards that flag - and especially in our fast changing world of technology - things might change. Factors in the company might change or new technological possibilities might arise. That’s where the sand comes into play, the flag can be moved and the vision is adapted but still everyone walks towards the same goal described in the experience vision. 

How can we come up with experience visions and how can they help us? 

In our daily work at the portfolio companies, we often experience that employees - us included - are buried under their day to day tasks: The design for the next sprint needs a polish, the usability test on feature Y needs to be analysed, or results on that important A/B test are overdue. One very important thing on how to come up with meaningful experience visions is having more “breathing space” in the UX and product team. Marta, UX Designer at PUX,  recently facilitated the creation of a new product process at CAR FOR YOU which incorporates that: in a dedicated “discovery stream” (in parallel to the “delivery stream”) small, multi- disciplinary teams of designers, researchers and product people gather to solve the bigger challenges. In this discovery stream, a small team could put on their roadmap to work on a draft for a 1-5 year experience vision, scribble a story map for it and then present it to the company. Best case: We reach shared a understanding of the experience we want for our users in the future and we have that flag in the sand to march towards. Worst case: Discussions are sparked about what experience we actually want to build. 

Steps to build an experience vision

  1. Start with the current experience. What makes today’s experience with our product or service frustrating for our users? That’s why UX Research is so important!
  2. Ideate on future experiences. What’s the best experience we could imagine providing our users? 
  3. Define the timeframe. Determine the timeframe of the horizon. For example, in 5 years what is the best experience we can imagine delivering?
  4. Communicate & discuss. Put this vision into action and make it tangible. Be it in video form, scribbles or written from.

by Mathias Jenny, UX Researcher at the PUX Team

In the monthly Product and UX letter the PUX team shares insights about projects, interviews with product gurus and personal anecdotes inside and outside the TX group:

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