The most important thing any product team needs is clear and up-to-date goals that everyone knows and agrees with. To get that you should do a UX strategy workshop together with your team. Here at UX studio, we love the UX Strategy Canvas, because it helps step back and get an overview. Let me show you what it is and how to use it. Start by downloading the canvas in original size here.
Explore the current state, brainstorm ideas and prioritize
On the top of the canvas, you can note down your current high-level business goal in one sentence. This goal will probably change by the end of the workshop. You will write the new strategy at the bottom of the canvas.
The canvas itself has two sides. On the left side you can collect data and insights. The fresh user insights (pains and needs), the current metrics and the result of the competitor research goes there. It will help us see the product’s current state and the market environment. On the right side you can collect your ideas connected to the data on the left.
I suggest filling the left side before the UX strategy workshop. When you are done with the preparation you can invite your team and brainstorm on ideas for the right side. After brainstorming you just have to prioritize the ideas (more on that later), and formulate the new strategy you will follow. The result will be a short description of the new UX strategy on the bottom.
And we have a special section at the bottom right corner: the features to kill. Time-to-time you should consider getting rid of the ballast, the features no one uses and don’t fit in your strategy.
Now dig deeper and see what each section is good for.
Examine user insights and try to solve their pains
To design a useful product, you have to solve people’s real problems. The best product teams do continuous product discovery, regular interviews for example, to find these pains and needs. The goal of the first section is to react to these needs.
On the left side you can list the user problems you found, and the motivations behind them. We don’t collect usability problems with the product here, but problems in the user’s life we can solve.
When we designed an ad platform for Instagram stars, most of them mentioned they wanted to talk with other popular Instagram users. When we asked them why, it turned out that most of them work alone, they don’t have anyone to share their thoughts with. So we could identify loneliness as the intrinsic motivation behind their requests, and we were able to come up with many community features to address this issue.
A problem usually sounds like an exact goal, while the motivation is the intrinsic human drive why people want to solve the given problem. If you are familiar with the motivation part as well, you can come up with better ideas to solve the root of the problem.
Look at the numbers and find the bottleneck
The next section is about the funnel and metrics. On the left side you can see the traditional AARRR model. You can note down the metrics you use to measure each stage, and the exact numbers you have.
The next step is to find the bottleneck. To do that you will need some industry benchmarks, or you can rely on your previous experience. The numbers will tell you which part of the funnel is broken and needs improvement. As always, you can collect ideas on the right side.
Check the competitors and position your product
The third section is about competitors. Your product doesn’t exist alone, there are other solutions trying to solve the same user problems. Check these competitors and list their pros and cons here besides your own product’s advantages and disadvantages.
If you have real competitors, it is very difficult to beat them in every possible way. A better strategy is to position yourself. Find a particular audience or a problem set that you can solve the best.
When designing your product you should focus on your strengths. After you did your competitor research and collected the pros and cons, you will get a clear picture of how you can stand out. The goal is to highlight the strengths of your product on the UI.
Instead of competing in every possible way, you should find the low-hanging fruits, the things you can improve easily. So, choose your battles wisely, highlight your strengths and work on the areas where you have a chance to win.
Formulate your UX strategy
After you analyzed user needs, your product performance and the competition, it’s time to step back and formulate a strategy. Start by looking at the big picture again. What are the most important pains in your audience’s life? What are the main advantages of your product compared to other solutions? The answers to these questions can help you describe a product that will have a huge demand and stand out on the market. By describing this product you are basically formulating your value proposition.
The result should be one single sentence, which tells where you want to go and how, and why you will win.
A few examples of strategy summaries:
- In a world where air pollution is a serious issue and consumers care about the environment more, Tesla will be the first auto maker focusing on electric cars by building a high-end roadster first for early adopters, then turning to the mass markets.
- On a market full of sophisticated marketing tools that are difficult to use, Automizy will be an easy to understand alternative, with a drag and drop UI and a built-in AI that does the optimization instead of the users.
- Marky, a voice recording app, will enter into a crowded market, focusing on one of the most important pains of researchers’ and journalists’: editing and reporting interviews by providing tools like marking the interesting moments in sound recordings and speech-to-text transcriptions.
Sometimes you will need a bit of time to come up with your strategy summary. It’s okay. Sleep on it, and wait a few days until things fall into place.
It’s time for ruthless prioritization
After filling the canvas you will have a long list of ideas and to-dos. Obviously you won’t be able to do all these things at once, so you have to prioritize. I know it is not easy, because I messed up this part myself so many times. It’s just too tempting to start working on many things simultaneously, but please, learn from my mistake and don’t do it. A good UX roadmap has just a few high-level goals in it. There are two methods you can use to find these.
If you managed to create a great strategy and your value proposition is clear, you can just go through all the ideas and check which support this value proposition the better. These will have high-priority on your to-do list.
If you still have too many ideas, you can use the good old value versus complexity matrix. Just examine every idea by the generated business value and the difficulty of execution.
The best ideas are on the first quadrant. They are easy to build and they have huge added value. Easy wins. The fourth quadrant on the other hand, is the danger zone, with low value and high complexity. The third quadrant with low value, but also low complexity consists of small improvements, minor bugs or minor usability issues. They have to be done, but they will be at the end of your priority list.
The second quadrant is an interesting place. These ideas promise high value, but they are also difficult to build. The goal here is to break these ideas into smaller chunks and create their MVP’s. This way you can move them into the winner first quadrant.
First steps to review and update your UX strategy
Now it’s time to wrap up all these things about UX strategy. Here are the simple steps you have to take to get started:
- Download the canvas from our UX tools page.
- Schedule a workshop with your product team. Fill the left side of the canvas as preparation.
- On the workshop present the left side to everyone and brainstorm ideas to the right side.
- After brainstorming try to look at the big picture and formulate a one sentence strategy. If it doesn’t happen, just sleep on it.
- When you have a clear strategy you can prioritize the ideas and tasks. Choose ideas that support the value proposition and your strategy better. Use the value vs. complexity matrix if needed.
If you try the UX Strategy Canvas please share your experience with us below in a comment. We can’t wait to hear your stories.
Want to read more?
To read more about the details, check out my fellow designer Katica’s super-detailed article about feature prioritization techniques. If you would like to know more about related topics, we have some fun ones on the psychology of rewards, and distractive design.
Product owners just getting started with user experience design should check out our free e-book, Product Manager’s Guide to UX Design. Download it now!
Need more in-depth information on designing digital products? Read about our philosophy in our Product Design book. Now with free worldwide shipping!