Highlights & Sketchnotes from UX Strat
by Kylie Tuosto
This year, I was lucky enough to both attend and present a workshop at UX Strat in Providence, Rhode Island. UX Strat focuses on experience design strategy and it showed in the seasoned attendees and design leaders presenting on stage. If you're curious, check out my workshop, 3 Frameworks for Designing Onboarding Experiences. After three eventful days, here are my key takeaways:
AIMING FOR EXCELLENCE
One of my favorite parts of attending conferences is that it's an opportunity to peer outside of my day-to-day bubble and see the design world with fresh eyes. At Intuit, we're laser focused on solving big customer problems. It's literally the air we breathe. So I found myself surprised and delighted by Beverly May's talk about UX Awards and how they measure success and crown the award winners.
Beverly outlined in quite extensive detail the criteria that judges use to award winners. And not surprisingly, winning submissions have many things in common like: being intuitive and being simple. But the one that stood out to me most was that winners intentionally aimed to do award-winning work. It probably doesn't sound mind-blowing when you think about it. But coming from a culture of problem solving, it's very rare that we intentionally aim to deliver award-winning design. We don't explicitly set project goals like "win an award" or "file a patent".
If you want to do great work, you have to explicitly aim to do great work.
But for a company that cares so deeply about innovation, it really hit me that we need to set the bar higher for our design innovation. When was the last time we raised the bar for what great looks like as an industry standard? When did we last contribute to the collective design community a new great pattern or UI component or animation technique? I'm excited to bring this mindset back to my team and see if we can't set our sights a bit higher moving forward.
JOBS TO BE DONE & MARKET DEFINITION
My last two years or so at Intuit have been focused on defining jobs-to-be-done for small businesses and helping our organization align around them in order to provide best-in-class innovation to our customers. Jim Kalbach's talk, User Experience as the New Strategic Advantage, was a great reminder of how powerful jobs-to-be-done are in redefining where we sit in the market. One example he gave was about CVS and their rebrand strategy around health. When they decided to focus on health, they had to stop selling cigarettes even though it's a quite lucrative business. What would it mean for QuickBooks, a digital checkbook (so to speak), to stop selling printable check stock? How will our latest innovations foreshadow where we should stop investing as a business?
His second example really hit home. At Intuit, we internally struggle with defining ourselves as an accounting solution vs. a run-your-business solution. There are, of course, pros and cons to both approaches. Jim's example was the railroad industry. Several companies saw themselves as railroad companies and continued to be in the railroad business even though technology was shifting towards cars. Successful companies saw themselves in the transportation business and were able to reinvent themselves as time and technology went on. Jim's talk reminded me how important it is not to let our current definitions constrain how we define our space. And by outlining durable customer-focused jobs-to-be-done, we can ensure that our businesses innovate beyond our existing market definition.