A UX Architect is an interpreter

August 15, 2013

Usability Architect – We take research data and synthesizes it into useful information. Everyone has presumptions with good intentions abut the product they want to build and sell. As the UX Architect we level set everyone involved and to create an experience framework with taxonomy and themes that will educate, and get everyone to use a shared language that everyone clearly understands.

There are product level UX Architects, and Enterprise level Architects. An Enterprise Architect synthesizes meaning from several systems that sometimes interweave. We show that if a change is made in one system, it can have an affect in another system. Systems thinking is a valuable skill in software development today.

Doing research is not enough, it’s  very important to make meaning out of that information. How do UX Architects find patterns and clues as to what features or functionality are the most valuable to a user? We use affinitized data and finds themes that emerge, and then apply it into the architecture.  When a stake holder or subject matter expert comes to the table with a presumption about what should be in the product the UX Architect provides Scenarios, Storyboards, Voice of the User, Experience Themes and User Stories artifacts which define the problem to be solved.

Once the story and user data is very clear (synthesized) other people can be brought in to contribute.  A Software Engineer Architect can view and understand the story and map out system dependancies, constraints, and what may need to be built into the platform to make the story happen.

Adding Value

How does using tried and true User Centered Design help deliver a world class experience? By discovering value propositions that are based off of real research.  UX Architects are trained to identify potential opportunities for value and determine ROI. Think about how can this opportunity lead to making money? How does alleviating a point point turn into a win for the customer and revenue for the business.

For example a Time on task study an be used to identify tasks that waste time. This technique can be used to determine critical features that can increase productivity.

UX Architectural Framework

Sometimes architecture diagrams can be a site map, a knowledge map, or a full blown diagram. It needs to include what themes are going to be included in the solution.

UX Architects use Themes – “A theme helps teams collectively build a more meaningful product. It is a coordinating force behind the design. When all the tangible elements of a product are all working together for the same purpose the product has a stronger story to tell.” (see boxes & arrows Experience Themes for more information)

Themes emerge from the patterns derived from artifacts collected from the research subject. It could be a business goal, marketing message, contextual inquiry artifact. An experience theme expresses the core value of the user experience.

Once themes are identified they should be evangelized to everyone who is collaborating on the project. This helps build a common lexicon and allows everyone involved on the same page.  When everyone is using the same design language, it saves time and effort. When we go to collaboration meetings, everyone will be talking about the same thing. When you have the data to back up a theme, then it becomes easier to communicate and justify why a feature is required. If someone suggests something that ‘sounds cool’ but is not supported by data then it can be validated as to why it should be in or out of the product.

The UX Architect creates a UX roadmap that will show a starting point, where you want to be, an how to get there. Roadmaps put work into buckets or workable chunks. Once you have your vision you can create a solution with major UX architectural components. Remember when you develop your roadmap to keep it based on themes from the over all vision.

The UX Architect influences the design. Its important to influence peers and stakeholders of the value that we offer. It is our goal to provide our users with a World Class experience and for it to result in our products that are market differentiators. When you are a good UX evangelist, you illustrate the value of Usability and the risk of the cost model that does not follow good Usability Practices.

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