Even when goals are refined and written down, the process of getting there can often look unclear, especially when living in the moment.
Business books advise us to have long terms goals and an objective to work to. They’re not wrong. In over 13 years of running a business, this last year has highlighted how important it is to remain flexible in the journey and which route to take.
Adapting as you go is a good thing. It helps create stronger products and services that are in tune with others.
Allow For Twists And Turns
It is important to know where you want to go and how you deliver value to others, but be ready for the journey and the twists and turns that go with it.
The services of Experience UX (usability testing and user research) have remained the same since 2007. However, the supporting services and their delivery has developed and refined over time. Recently, co-design workshops that were designed as a one-day session delivered locally and face to face rapidly switched to a remote format and were broken down into three sessions delivered across a week.
This time last year (January 2020) I had grand aims, but with a simple short-term goal to be more profitable and to be exciting. Within six months I refined this to ‘be exciting’! I also set a slightly longer goal with aspirations and milestones to reach in March 2022, and that is still there. I’m still refining the long term ‘Just Cause’, but one plan I can’t have is no plan.
I mentioned in an article on knowing those you serve that, “If you don’t have a vision, you meander and becomes difficult to acknowledge that what you are doing is meaningful to others.”
The Goals In Mind
When it comes to UX projects you will do well to think beyond UX goals alone. Paint a bigger picture, tell a story, and (if you want/need to get buy-in), include some metrics. Goals that lack definition are unlikely to release the necessary budget for your sound and thorough process, regardless of “promised” results.
It is easy to get caught up in whether we are talking tactics, goals, strategies, missions, tasks, or objectives. In our working lives (and often in our personal lives) we sell and deliver what is required in the short term or right now, with an eye on an overarching idea. But really, it is all happening at once and so the view is blurred. We get a bit lost and put ourselves under pressures that misrepresent our bigger picture.
Continually adjusting and having an unpredictable future on the journey towards your goals can be ok. In this article on why you don’t need to know everything about UX, Fabricio Teixeira says, “Don’t force yourself to learn everything at the same time. You will end up in a loop of anxiety that will only accentuate weaknesses and knowledge gaps, not your strengths.”
Trust The Process
To reach an objective, there needs to be an overall idea that you want to comprehend where performing research can help.
In many user research projects, there is a progressive process involved. There is always an unknown in what the research might uncover, and then how this will influence the next step. When you get to the other side you look back and see how everything took shape and eliminate bias (you can read more on questioning your own assumptions), and then formalise the next step accordingly.
The pandemic has knocked many businesses off-kilter, but that does not mean the appetite to achieve a milestone should be lost. There still needs to be a place to get to, even though the steps we make might sometimes seem vague whilst we are ‘in the moment’. What must be clear is the mission and how this is going to help the bigger picture.
For instance, in a day-to-day example, the desire for more visitors to your website is an unclear objective. What does a visitor mean to you? Who is the audience you want to attract and what are they looking to achieve? How can you attract your audience and help them with their goal so they can help you with yours (and leave as a happy customer or community member)? With the bigger picture in place, our daily tactics for more website visitors might change, but the activity has meaning beyond the data.
Trust the process, even though the detail might change.
Food Shopping With Vision
Decisions and delivery are made by a mix of instinct, knowledge and adjustments as you progress.
My weekly food shop comes with a list, which is based on a menu. If I marched into the supermarket and just bought anything, it would take me a very long time working out what to make with the food I’ve bought, with four children constantly asking, “what’s for dinner?”
With the menu in place, even if I forget the list, I can make a decent attempt at buying what we need (followed by a few tweaks to the menu). Even with a list, I make a few adjustments as I shop, and that’s ok.
The finishing line might move a little and the journey will certainly evolve, but it helps to be heading somewhere and to have a view of where somewhere is.