22 January 2007

Developing user-centered tools for strategic business planning

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Wells Fargo
User experience management consultant Richard Anderson provides some good examples of how user experience professionals are moving their work and impact “upstream” to play an earlier and more strategic role in their workplaces’ business.

“I’ve addressed aspects of this in previous blog entries, as have other bloggers. Among the others are Jess McMullin, whose design maturity continuum describes design activity as evolving in companies from the role of styling to making things work better, to problem solving, and ultimately to problem framing to shape strategy. Another is Luke Wroblewski, who recommends that designers use their design skills “for business visualization“. […]

One business that has gone and is going even further with such work is Wells Fargo, as partly described by Robin Beers and Pamela Whitney in a September 2006 EPIC conference paper entitled, “From Ethnographic Insight to User-centered Design Tools.” At Wells Fargo, ethnographic and related research findings are summarized in experience models, mental models, and user task models, with the latter representing the details and complexities of everyday financial life. User profiles, also developed from research findings, are then connected to the task model via “scenario starter” worksheets that enable all sorts of Wells Fargo personnel, including business strategists, to walk through the experience of different users in different situations in order to develop an extensive understanding of where, when, how, and why the user experience breaks down.

By extending the task model with metrics derived from surveys and other sources, Wells Fargo has developed an impressive user-centered strategic toolkit that guides project identification, project prioritization, business case definition, and much more.”

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