Setting a vision for a project is crucial to its success. A clear vision helps keep the project team focussed on achieving its objectives, wins buy-in from the business and helps prevent feature-creep.
A strong vision also helps companies to fight on their terms, rather than play catch-up with their competitors.
Vision statements are a powerful way of giving a design team shape and purpose, but most vision statements are not clear or strong. The desire to please multiple stakeholders means that vision statements often become watered-down lists of ‘nice to have’ items.
And a lack of definition means that vision statements often end up being vague demands to try harder. Vision statements like ‘We will create the best website…’ do not tell the design team where to focus its use of scarce resources, but they do set the project up for failure.
A strong vision statement, like ‘We will aim to double the number of bookings on our site by simplifying the user journey through the main booking paths’ explains what the problem is, what the impact will be and what types of solution will be acceptable.
Forget trying to sum it up in one sentence; as long as you can explain it in a few quick sentences it’s the content that matters.
We begin by interviewing stakeholders to understand what the client’s objectives are and how success is measured. We turn this into a formula to describe how the business derives benefit from the website or mobile application (usually a combination of driving sales and saving money).
Next we look at the business issues associated with those problems. We use a vision workshop to rank the problems and look for clusters (for instance ‘We’re losing traffic at key points on our website’, ‘We need to increase bookings’, ‘We need to reduce the number of simple sales-related queries to our call centres’).
We then hone this into a simple statement that gives shape and direction to a digital strategy.
Of course, all that is easier said than done. But as outsiders, we’re well placed to help our clients ask the kind of hard questions that it takes to shape a strong vision.
Smashing UX Design is a wonderful new book by cxpartners' Jesmond Allen and James Chudley, available now.
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