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Disruption by design — Design thinking in motion. The idea of disruptive technology has been with us since Clayton Christensen released The Innovator’s Dilemma in 1997. Since then, we have seen not only major companies disrupted, but entire industries. We have observed incredible disruption in a very short time, but can we learn from this history how to reliably cause disruption? In this regard, I want to examine the premise that: It is design innovation — not technological innovation — that causes disruption. I am using technological innovation to mean the use of engineering knowledge to create new processes and products and design innovation to mean the use of design thinking to create improved experiences using available technologies.

The real cause of disruption Consider a few famous cases of disruptive innovation over the past 100 or so years: Karl Benz was granted a German patent for his gasoline internal combustion engine in 1879, and he started building automobiles using his technology in 1885. Disruption on purpose? Yes, Apple. User research, quick and dirty.

What fuels great design (and why most startups don’t do it) This article was originally published at The Wall Street Journal. “How can my company become great at design?” Founders ask me this question more than any other. They’re often considering hiring a hotshot designer or expensive design agency. And while those might help, neither will bake design deep into how the company operates. Founders need a way to make great design become automatic, and there’s only one way I’ve found to do that reliably: invest time in listening to your customers. I’m glad that the startup community has been focusing on design lately. Design is a powerful and often overlooked way to solve problems.

You’ve probably heard this advice a hundred times before. It’s so much fun to make things that it’s often hard to stop and listen. Excuse: Customers don’t know what they want. I’m sure you’ve heard the famous Ford quote, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Reality: Customers know a lot — if you just know how to ask. Questions to ask before starting user research. Whenever I start working with a new team, I have to — quickly! — diagnose what they need and how I can be most useful. The impact and usefulness of my UX research hinges on my understanding of their product strategy, goals, constraints, and concerns.

But I often know very little about their businesses, their users, or their products. So, I do the only thing I know how to do as a researcher: I ask a lot of questions. At our first meeting, I informally interview them (live — not over email) to figure out their needs, goals, and plans. What do they want to know about their product, features, users, competitors, etc.? What constraints (schedule, market, engineering, etc.) should I know about?

I even draft simple interview guides for these conversations — just like I do for research interviews with users. Product roadmap In addition to knowing where the team is headed, I find it helpful to understand a bit of the history. What’s the story of how this <feature, product, idea> got to this point? How to prioritize customer research when everything is a priority. This article was originally published at Medium. Our team at Google Ventures meets with startups every week to advise CEOs, give design feedback, and answer pressing questions. One question we’ve heard again and again is about prioritizing research. It often sounds something like this: We have a small design team, and a long list of projects in different stages. On top of that, our bosses just asked us to work on [personas, customer journeys, experience maps, fill in the blank with other large research deliverable].

We want to incorporate more customer research, but we can’t do it all. What should we do? It’s best to test ideas early and often, but at a startup you can’t do research for everything. To start, make a list of all research projects you’re considering in a spreadsheet. For each project, answer the following questions. Is the team willing and able to act on research results? Your research might confirm all of your assumptions and design decisions, but it’s not common! General UX activities & process overview. ROI Is Not a Silver Bullet: Five Actionable Steps for Valuing User Experience Design. For years now, the “ROI of User Experience” has been sought as a means to justify larger corporate investments in web design. Although ROI methodology can be a useful tool for prioritizing possible web development projects, by itself ROI is not the answer to building a stronger user experience design competency.

In the world of financial analysis, ROI is a tool that helps executives to understand and compare possible capital expenditures, such as an investment in new equipment or software. These are large projects that have a pre-determined useful lifetime against which projected returns can be easily compared. While some large-scale web projects can effectively be quantified in terms of ROI, more often user experience improvements are an ongoing and iterative process.

Design competence is an intangible asset that requires more specific valuation techniques. 1. 2. 3. User behavior lies at the intersection of business goals and user needs. 4. 5. Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients. The new business meeting was going swimmingly—that is, until the client started asking questions about our design process. Then we unleashed our lexicon of specialized user experience (UX) research terminology. Article Continues Below Why should we do that thing you called…what was it, task analysis? We’d like some of those personas. They’re important, right? As mental models flew about the room, I realized how hard it is for clients to understand the true value of UX research. I created a cheat sheet to help you pitch UX research using plain, client-friendly language that focuses on the business value of each exercise. Try a little tenderness#section1 Strong UX thinking is founded on observed user behavior.

As UX researchers, we’re hired to be the glue between business stakeholders and users. What results can clients expect from research? Good UX research = smart business#section3 The UX research cheat sheet#section4 Questionnaires#section5 Contextual inquiry#section6 Diary study#section7.