Strategic Interaction Design

4 Jan 2009 - 1:43pm
5 years ago
58 replies
7323 reads
Dan Saffer
2003

I'm starting a revision of my book Designing for Interaction.

<http://www.designingforinteraction.com>

In the second edition, I'd like to include a chapter on Strategy, that
is: how to decide WHAT should be designed and WHY.

So when I ask, what should interaction designers know about strategy?
You respond...

Comments

7 Jan 2009 - 12:29pm
Cwodtke
2004

Strategy is like the word design. That's a problem we should all be familiar
with. ;)

There does seem to be value in emphasizing a capital S Strategy, which is
what we are all referring to quite naturally, but not forgetting the small s
strategy which is the heart of it having value or not. It has to enable you
to act for strategy to be valuable.

Peter makes good points; for your strategy to work, it needs to be a good
how to, including knowledge of

Vision
You wouldn't believe how many people with strategies can't envision a
successful end state.

Point-of-View
Peter called it philosophy, but I've always heard it called point of view
(both sound odd to me now.) It's really about Who are you, and how do you
do things. Google is search, Facebook is social. If they both do people
search, they will solve it via their point of view, be it keywords or
network connections to determine relevence.

Plan of Attack
How do you choose what to do? Knowing vision and POV, you select a series of
hihg level activites hat move you toward hte vision

Sequencing
I htink this gets forgotten (maybe because it feels more tacticile) but I
htink chooosing what you do first, second and third is a highly strategic
choice. All companies are resource constrained, and everythign you do is
someone else you don't do. So you have to pick what comes first.

On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 9:16 AM, Barbara Ballard <bballa01 at gmail.com> wrote:

> > On Jan 6, 2009, at 7:18 AM, Christina Wodtke wrote:
> >> ... you could even simplify that to "Strategy is the plan for how to"
>
> On Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 5:32 PM, Peter Merholz <peterme at peterme.com> wrote:
> > I'm wary of reducing strategy to just the plan, because, as we all know,
> > plans often (usually?) need to be changed once you start acting. That's
> why
> > philosophy and vision are important -- as you change your plans, you have
> a
> > foundation that helps you maintain appropriate focus.
>
> I had a blog comment that replaced the original "compete" with
> "succeed", which seems like a good solution.
>
> I think that the term strategy is terribly overused. For example, we
> are moving into a new office. We created a bit of a plan of all the
> things we needed to do. Did we have an office moving strategy? I don't
> think so.
>
> Now our office location might be part of our strategy. We're close to
> downtown, in an interesting part of town, accessible by bike, bus,
> foot, and car. It's interesting enough for designers to be happy,
> while being cheap enough to make me happy. It's on the side of town
> that makes for an acceptable commute from nearby Kansas City, where we
> can get a supply of experienced employees without forcing them to
> move.
>
> But I don't think that office location is part of our strategy. It is
> a specific tactic associated with the "be a great place to work for
> great UX folks who don't want to move to major design/tech centers"
> strategy. That in turn involves understanding various reasons why our
> target employees might not want to move, including family. So we have
> other tactics associated with that strategy.
>
>
> ~~~~
> Barbara Ballard
> barbara at littlespringsdesign.com 1-785-838-3003
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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7 Jan 2009 - 12:32pm
Joshua Porter
2007

I think of strategy as the way to create a long-term advantage.

For a football team, it might be to tire a big and slow defense.

For an product company, it might be to differentiate itself in a
commodity market by offering high margin products. (Apple)

For a social software company, it might be to create the best movie
recommendation engine around. (Netflix)

For a web design agency, it might be to acquire clients by focusing
on web standards.

For a search company, it might be to make the smartest search/ad
engine out there. (Google)

Tactics are the ways to do these things. The game-plan.

The football team goes no-huddle.

The product company produces higher quality products and builds
stores in upper class neighborhoods.

The social software company creates interface to elicit ratings and
hires data geeks (or runs contests) to make the best recommendations
possible.

The web design agency participates in the W3C community and publishes
case studies on how they saved a client huge bandwidth costs.

The Search company tries to get Javascript on as many web sites as
possible so their corpus of data is the biggest. They hire the
smartest data geeks to run algorithms against it. They A/B test the
results.

The design strategy is manifested in how well these things are
supported in the interface...how well Netflix can get users signed up
and eliciting movie ratings, or how well Google can get people
installing Javascript or making search queries.

There are activities/actions that companies need their customers to
perform for that company to be successful. It is the job of designers
to create software/products/services that elicit those actions. The
mediums change, but the designer's basic challenge is to
support/change people's behavior.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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7 Jan 2009 - 2:28pm
Angel Marquez
2008

So, strategy would equate to counter moves to perform on the opposition when
faced with resistance during the course of achieving a goal with one of a
many possible actions.
I like the football analogy. Because you switch offensive defensive roles
and you have an assortment of plays to choose from to gain more ground.
Sometimes practice pays off and sometimes luck, CHANCE.

The play books would deem the team you play on. Whether you live by
research, design, develop, deploy or some other renamed variation of this,
its all the same. Pass, handoff, punt, shotgun etc....

BUT
I think our team should all be headed towards the same goal NOT an octagon
shaped playing field and the refs work for one of the teams.

Strategy should asses and identify the existing political structure you are
entering and your personal role and responsibility and how it effects the
situation as a whole.

On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 9:32 AM, Joshua Porter <porter at bokardo.com> wrote:

> I think of strategy as the way to create a long-term advantage.
>
> For a football team, it might be to tire a big and slow defense.
>
> For an product company, it might be to differentiate itself in a
> commodity market by offering high margin products. (Apple)
>
> For a social software company, it might be to create the best movie
> recommendation engine around. (Netflix)
>
> For a web design agency, it might be to acquire clients by focusing
> on web standards.
>
> For a search company, it might be to make the smartest search/ad
> engine out there. (Google)
>
> Tactics are the ways to do these things. The game-plan.
>
> The football team goes no-huddle.
>
> The product company produces higher quality products and builds
> stores in upper class neighborhoods.
>
> The social software company creates interface to elicit ratings and
> hires data geeks (or runs contests) to make the best recommendations
> possible.
>
> The web design agency participates in the W3C community and publishes
> case studies on how they saved a client huge bandwidth costs.
>
> The Search company tries to get Javascript on as many web sites as
> possible so their corpus of data is the biggest. They hire the
> smartest data geeks to run algorithms against it. They A/B test the
> results.
>
> The design strategy is manifested in how well these things are
> supported in the interface...how well Netflix can get users signed up
> and eliciting movie ratings, or how well Google can get people
> installing Javascript or making search queries.
>
> There are activities/actions that companies need their customers to
> perform for that company to be successful. It is the job of designers
> to create software/products/services that elicit those actions. The
> mediums change, but the designer's basic challenge is to
> support/change people's behavior.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=36819
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

6 Jan 2009 - 1:15pm
Steven Libenson
2007

I am enjoying the perspectives shared in this thread. My previous post was
about multi-channel strategy and interaction design. There appears to be an
appetite for describing business unit strategy more broadly, so I thought
I'd wade in again.

I worked for many years at one of the world leading strategy consulting
companies with strong ties to Harvard Business School. We summarized
business unit strategy as four strategic choices:

1. What are our goals and aspirations?

2. Where will we play?

3. How will we win?

4. How will we organize to win?

There are many questions under each of these four topics, and the
sub-questions need to be adapted to the context. In an attempt to be
(somewhat) concise, I'll provide some general examples:

1. *Goals and Aspirations*

1. What do we hope to accomplish?
2. How will we know if / when we have succeeded?

2. *Where to Play*:

1. What products and services will we offer?
2. Who will we offer them to? (segmentation)

3. *How to Win*:

1. Who are we competing against and what will our competitive
advantage(s) be?
2. What do we want to convey to different parts of the market? (value
proposition, branding and messaging, pricing)
3. How will we interact with and influence our prospects and customers?
(marketing, sales, service, channels, customer experience)

4. *Organizing to Win*:

1. What capabilities do we need? (people, processes, technology)
2. How will what metrics will we use to monitor our progress?
3. How will we adapt our plans based on our learning over time?

As this was about making choices, it was as important to describe what not
to do as what to do, to avoid what some have called the "peanut butter
problem" (failing by spreading resources too thinly).

On Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 10:18 AM, Christina Wodtke
<cwodtke at eleganthack.com>wrote:

> Peterme makes some excellent points worth considering about the nature of
> strategy. Strategy happens over and over again, at multiple points in the
> work of a comapny. You have a company strategy, a business strategy, a
> product strategy and a design strategy. As Barbara said "Strategy is the
> plan for how to compete"; you could even simplify that to "Strategy is the
> plan for how to" since we have strategies for how to lose weight, for how
> to
> get a new job, etc.
>
> A design needs to both understand the strategies created by the business
> owners as context and create strategies to realize those goals.
>
> For an example, a startup might have the goal of creating a sufficiently
> large data asset to be aquired by google, or monetize directly. Their
> strategy could be to build a wikipedia-esque community commited to building
> up this asset. The product strategy might be to create a place that
> rewards
> individual efforts (i.e. digg over wikipedia) and the design strategy might
> be to create rich profiles and a named level reputation system that follows
> uses around.
>
> The first strategy might be created by the senior executives, the second by
> the executives and the product maanger, and the last by the product manager
> and the designer... all cocreated as the "how to" gets passed to the next
> team member.
>
>
> On Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 8:39 PM, Peter Merholz <peterme at peterme.com> wrote:
>
> > I will chime in and say that Andrew Otwell's comments are probably the
> most
> > appropriate for the 2nd Ed of "D4I", given the primer-like nature of the
> > book.
> >
> > I think it might be harmful to equate "strategy" with "business" as many
> > are doing here. I think the magic of "D4I" is approaching IxD in an
> almost
> > Aristotelian, pure fashion. There are many examples of IxD that aren't
> > suited to business, but none that aren't suited to strategy.
> >
> > When I think of strategy in the context of our design work, I think of
> > three things:
> >
> > - philosophy
> > - vision
> > - planning
> >
> > Philosophy asks, "What are you about? What do you stand for, what is your
> > approach?" This is akin to branding, and figuring out your brand
> > personality, your characteristics. Whatever it is that you will be
> designing
> > needs to be informed by some underlying philosophy.
> >
> > Vision asks, "Where are you headed? How will you know you're successful?"
> > This vision is an articulation of the philosophy that motivates action.
> > Think "Made To Stick". A philosophy is insufficient for driving design,
> > particularly something as complex as interaction design. Vision provides
> the
> > north star that guides your efforts toward a successful outcome.
> >
> > Planning asks, "How will you get there?" I find that in most discussions
> of
> > strategy, planning is overlooked, with people more interested in talking
> > about positioning or competition or other big picture items. But when
> I've
> > seen products fail, it's often because there was bad planning -- the
> > go-to-market strategy was flawed, either too ambitious or not ambitious
> > enough, resulting in the release of products that either aren't yet ready
> > for prime time or woefully behind the pack. Perhaps the single most
> useful
> > technique we teach at Adaptive Path's UX Intensive Design Strategy day is
> > the Product Evolution Map, which brings rationality and sensibility to
> the
> > standard product roadmap.
> >
> > --peter
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

16 Jan 2009 - 12:40am
dszuc
2005

Enjoyable reading and bookmarked!

>From Andrew Otwell -

"Finally and perhaps most importantly: what does "a strategy" look
like? Is it a diagram? A narrative document? A phrase that the CEO
repeats at every chance? A spreadsheet of numbers?"

>From mark schraad:

"Years later, it is often hard to blame business folks for not
understanding the importance of bringing design into the conversation
early. But they are not taught that in business school. Well, unless
you are lucky enough to got Rottman, IIT, Harvard, Berkley, Kansas
and a handful of other schools where the design and business
professors have continued dialog."

Designers should help management articulate a strategy with a
"Design". In other words get out of the words, spreadsheets and
business plans that people find hard to read. Get out of the numbers
and show how Design process and the Designs themselves can help
define, iterate and communicate strategy outside of the board room.
Design and great products can illustrate that process :) Also see -
http://www.apogeehk.com/articles/Six_techniques_for_advocating_design_in_your_organization.html
(Six techniques for advocating design in your organizations)

I often think that if employees can tell you what the company
strategy is and how it fits with their work then its been well
communicated. I believe many cant. Note - I often assume companies
actually have a strategy.

>From Barbara Ballard - "Strategy is the plan for how to compete."

Yes it is and also on how to partner :)

Finally, suggest you also need a Strategic Piece that you can adjust
quickly to react to market forces. How could Designers help with
this?

rgds,
Dan Szuc in Shanghai

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16 Jan 2009 - 12:42am
dszuc
2005

And some related pieces to my previous post -

* The Experience Vision -
http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2006/05/31/the-experience-vision/
* SpoolCast: Product Evolution with Adaptive Path%u2019s Peter
Merholz -
http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2008/07/02/spoolcast-product-evolution-with-peter-merholz/

rgds,
Dan Szuc

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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16 Jan 2009 - 2:25pm
leofrish
2007

And, to add my bit to the topic, I've spent a few years teasing out
some of these issues within the context of an industrial tools
manufacturer. Some of my initial musings that can be made public can
be viewed at:

http://www.chifoo.org/index.php/resources/resources_archive_complete/C7/

The initial set of articles introduces the topic of User Experience
Architecture - how it is distinguished from other forms of design,
how it integrates into the business environment and so on. The next
set will describe the nuts and bolts of creating one, its constituent
parts.

Perhaps some of you will find this mildly engaging,

Leo

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17 Jan 2009 - 2:33am
dirtandrust
2008

Ah yes, strategy. :)

At my company there are no Project Managers (insane, right?!) so we
IxDers are tasked with inital Project Management (ie. strategy).

Ignoring that whole can of worms, I think IxD can serve as the
initial strategists for a project and probably shoud, by definition.
Where the problems occur are combining IxD with other methodologies
such as Agile/Scrum/XP (Extreme Programming) that believe in a fast
moving process that directly conflicts with Interaction Design.

What we're doing now is developing a spreadsheet for the next 6
months of work, combining two large projects, so that there's no
duplication of tasks. That way we can insert ourselves into the
process at the beginning and we can direct the Scrum Milestones with
Interaction Design.

I'd say strategy takes a huge role in a usable design, and it makes
it work.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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