Team, Tools, & Takeaways: A User Experience Road Map

Since its push onto the main stage of digital product creation following the .com explosion, practitioners, customers, students, and gurus alike have all evangelized the need for effective “user experience” as the driving force behind interaction design. For over a decade thereafter, a formulaic approach to applying good user experience was leveraged primarily by digital agencies in order to deliver on this need.


I recently wrote a whitepaper pulling from my own experience at Isobar to shed some light on how the UX practice developed and evolved over the last several years within our agency. From the legacy model, to a specialized mindset, to a more collaborative ideal, I expand upon our history and the potential future of the changing space.


In regards to the legacy UX model, its advantages included a holistic approach to digital product definition, a strong coherence of vision and the flexibility of a cross-vector approach (ideal for smaller projects/agencies). What the legacy UX model is limited by is a difficulty to scale and a one-and-done approach that defines and designs an end-state vision of the product, such an approach may not be achievable for months or years.  This is an approach rapidly becoming unmarketable in an industry increasingly dominated by minimum viable product (MVP) releases.


Meanwhile, the specialized UX method improved upon the legacy model in that it allows for more iteration in an agile fashion because the full team contributes content to a single wireframe document. This iteration lessens the need for highly contextualized presentations because it behaves more closely to the end product. This approach has achieved success in the vein of complex enterprise design.


We believe the ultimate goal (and one we’re all moving toward) is a collaborative UX method that is more reactive to dozens of emerging factors. In this approach, the wireframes are not paper, but interactive designs that can be iterated upon, which allows for true agile processes, faster design turnaround and no contextualization as the model “speaks for itself.”


While we’re certainly headed down the collaborative UX path, there are many hurdles to overcome including the eschewing of legacy practices, testing the collaborative method on non-traditional projects, and establishing true client and agency co-creation.


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