UX Lisbon: Upgrade your Mandate

by May 16, 2010

At the User Experience Lisbon (UXLX) conference in Portugal, Peter Merholz discussed Upgrade your Mandate with an overview of what organizations need to do to bring good user experiences to like. Here's my notes on his presentation:

  • People can be messy, complex, and unpredictable. A website is only part of their experience with an organization. There can be challenges across multiple touch points not just the Web. When an organization has their website buried several levels deep within an org chart, it is hard to have a broad impact on overall customer experience.
  • How can we change and evolve organizations? In order to serve customers across channels we have to engage in new ways. We need to overcome legacies.
  • Engage across functions and departments. Significant change can't just happen in one silo. Cross functional collaboration is crucial.
  • User experience is a team sport. To address the complexity of challenges, we need to draw widely from cross-functional teams. User experience is not the sole responsibility of people with the tittle of designer.
  • Design is an activity that everyone can engage in. Designers become facilitators to get the best ideas out of everybody and refine them. You can use workshops and ideation sessions to get the ideas out of peoples heads.
  • Engender empathy within the organization.
  • 4 old ways of thinking about customers: a customer buys products and delivers cash; a customer is docile and gullible and can be persuaded through advertising; a customer is rational and wants to maximize utility and bang for the buck; customers are task driven and want to be efficient and effective.
  • None of these alone are enough . We need to understand emotional, intellectual, and functional needs of people. All of these apply to our customers. Together, this creates a sense of empathy for our customers.
  • Personas are good for empathy. Always call personas by a simple name. Everything in a persona should be written in first person voice. Identify the motivations of personas that lead to important behaviors.
  • Define the problem through design. Use the tools you have at hand.
  • Align your values and your vision. These things need to work together. An organization's values can help shelter and protect appropriate visions.
  • Articulate experience principles. You don’t need a CEO that demands great experience in order to deliver good products. TiVo had an original set of mantras generated by a group. These principles helped create the product.
  • Brand attributes influence voice (how we talk and write). Experience principles help define how we interact. Microsoft used design tenets to create the next version of Office and Windows.
  • Build from the outside in. Organizations tend to start at systems and end up at experiences. This is backwards. Should start from the experience and end up at the system. This defines what you have to do to support the vision you want to bring to life. Southwest airlines tells employees to lean towards the customer. They give their front line people flexibility to accomplish that.
  • Good user experience is a mindset organizations need to adopt not something you can buy.