Design Strategy – The WTF Duck

One of the best training conferences I’ve ever attended was Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive.  If you haven’t gone you should attend UX Intensive,  Toronto starting October 26.   I’ve been using their Design Strategy techniques with great success, but for a period of time one of them wasn’t working well.  It took a few times to realize why…

I’d like to lobby Adaptive Path to add another duck to their Design Strategy process.  Not everyone will need it, but without it the rest of the ducks won’t line up.

You must, must, MUST have a WTF Duck.

What’s Up With the Ducks?!

Go to UX Intensive and it will all make sense, I promise.

Adaptive Path will teach you how to “get your ducks in a row”.  Their design strategy process consists of fleshing out four “ducks” with clients.  If you successfully get your ducks in row, you’ll be able to create compelling experiences like the one I outline in Designing for the Fist Pump.

While you’re at UX Intensive you’ll try the techniques that help you get your ducks in a row.  That’s what makes this conference different from others.  The entire thing is hands-on!  With a nice controlled case study at your disposal, you’ll gain confidence and be ready to road test it as soon as you get back home.

And that is when you may discover:

I’m not getting my ducks in a row!  I’m herding flippin’ cats!

But don’t worry my dear, Grasshopper.  I am here to give away one secret that may help you get your ducks in a row or herd your cats in the right direction…

When you embark on a project your client has to provide a set of measurable business/organizational objectives.

If they aren’t measurable.  Stop.  You need to complete the WTF Duck first.

Measurable business objectives are pretty easy to define if you’re a company selling widgets.  But in the nonprofit sector where the objectives are things like, “Do good things for the world,” or “Educate the public about ‘x’,” it becomes a little tricky.

When I ask for objectives I’m often given vision or mission statements.  Sometimes I’m given new program initiatives.  In many cases nothing is measured beyond basic numbers like subscribers per year, number of website visitors per year, number of reports sold, etc.

It’s great information to have, but you have to tease out measurable objectives before you can start putting the rest of the ducks in a row.  I usually have to ask hard questions:

“What The Frack do you want people to do?!  Why do you exist?!  If you ceased to exist tomorrow, who would care?  What would they miss?  Who would they turn to instead?”

Usually this catches folks by surprise, but it sheds light on what is truly valued in the organization and that helps us develop measurable objectives that tell a more compelling story about what it means to do “good things for the world.”

Once you’ve got the WTF Duck lined up, move on to the remaining four.  If you want to find out what the four ducks are, sign up for UX Intensive.

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