Book Review: UX Strategy by Jaime Levy

UX Strategy by Jaime Levy

UX Strategy: What the heck is it and should you care?

These are the first things you should ask yourself before even thinking about buying this book. For many of you (particularly the old time UXers – you know who you are 😉) you have already been doing UX Strategy for most of your career and simply classing it as part of your work as a UX Professional. It’s all the stuff we do that’s more focussed on the business side. Things like discovery research to explore current user behaviour and needs, competitor analysis, user journey mapping, personas, crafting value propositions, testing them, storyboarding, creating early designs/prototypes and testing them iteratively. Jaime references Eric Reiss’ book ‘The lean startup’ several times throughout her book and the approach detailed in her book is very much in line with lean UX and building MVPs.

In fact, one could argue whether UX Strategy is just another term that’s been created for something that already exists. However, as the definition of UX changes and moves closer to a design discipline, we need a means of people recognising strategy as a key skill. Ironically, as the UX discipline has exploded, key skills like strategy which would ordinarily be part of an experience designers role, are much harder to find. So if UX Strategy needs to be split out into another pillar of UX to increase awareness and skills, then so be it.

So, how does Jaime define UX Strategy?

UX strategy is the process that should be started first, before the design or development of a digital product begins. It’s the vision of a solution that needs to be validated with real potential customers to prove that it’s desired in the marketplace. Although UX design encompasses numerous details such as visual design, content messaging, and how easy it is for a user to accomplish a task, UX strategy is the “Big Picture”. It is the high-level plan to achieve one or more business goals under conditions of uncertainty.

What is UX Strategy

In our opinion, a good UX Designer thinks about strategy as a natural part of their role – it’s what differentiates a UX Designer from a visual designer or a content designer. The UX Designer should always start with the bigger picture before any design takes place. Perhaps Jaime’s limited definition of UX Design is why she felt the need to write a book about UX Strategy – to increase awareness of these important UX skills.

Contents

  • What Is UX Strategy?
  • The Four Tenets of UX Strategy
  • Validating the Value Proposition
  • Conducting Competitive Research
  • Conducting Competitive Analysis
  • Storyboarding Value Innovation
  • Creating Prototypes for Experiments
  • Conducting Guerrilla User Research
  • Designing for Conversion
  • Strategists in the Wild
  • Dénouement

UX Strategy Page Sample

Pros

This is a really interesting read and packed full of useful information and explanations. Jamie uses real examples as much as possible throughout the book and includes templates that you can download through her website too, which is really helpful for you to practise some of the tools in the book.

The book itself is really easy to read, detailed and practical – she breaks everything down into steps to follow. It also includes a lot of visual screenshots so you can really follow the key example she uses throughout the book (an Airbnb for weddings business) and practise the techniques for yourself. This is not a book full of waffle and theory!

You’ll come away with an understanding of the UX process for creating products, and will be able to use the tools to get started on the Strategy process.

Cons

We disagreed with several things within her book and at times too much was left open to interpretation. For example, with regards to user recruitment, she quickly references Nielsen’s 5 user recommendation, but most UX professionals now agree that this figure shouldn’t be used as a one and only rule. The reality is, it’s more complex and careful thought needs to be given to how many users are seen. If you are doing lots of quick iterations you could in theory go lower, or if you have lots of variables and are planning less iterative testing, you may need to go higher.

Jaime also advises guerrilla research in coffee shops, but her recruitment method takes 5-10 days to book people in which goes against many of the benefits of quick coffee shop research. This is a bit confusing – she may as well use a lab. There’s no mention of the hugely positive effects of multiple stakeholders observing the research (this can be a key part of UX Strategy). Her coffee shop approach enables just one client observer to be present, not to mention that the recordings can be incredibly poor (the audio in particular, due to all the background noise). If research is important to you, you will benefit from reading a more detailed book.

At the end of the book there are no references.

The graphics and illustrations look dated and aren’t particularly engaging.

Should you buy it?

If you’re new to UX, lack understanding of how UX fits into business or you want a high level overview of the whole process then this book will be useful for you to read. It would also be useful for anyone building digital products, such as business owners, entrepreneurs and product managers.

Note: All our reviews are independent, not sponsored and based only on our opinion

24 Top UX Prototyping Tools with Downloadable Comparison Table

UX Prototyping Tools

The sheer amount of choice of UX prototyping tools can be pretty overwhelming, so here’s an overview of the top 24 tools, together with a FREE downloadable pdf table so that you can easily compare them.

Download my FREE 24 UX Tools Comparison Table >

Atomic

Atomic

Atomic
Description Powerful and scalable prototyping that lets you tackle complexity with confidence. Use simple interactions or advanced animation to bring your Sketch designs to life.
Verdict Create prototypes for web and mobile. The structure is similar to Sketch in that you create Pages and Artboards, which adds a level of familiarity to Sketch users.
App type Web app
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available
Link atomic.io

Axure RP

Axure

Axure
Description Create simple click-through diagrams or highly functional, rich prototypes with conditional logic, dynamic content, animations, math functions, and data-driven interactions without writing a single line of code.
Verdict Powerful tool that allowing detailed interaction to be prototyped for websites and apps. A fairly steep learning curve.
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available on live prototypes via the web
Link axure.com

Balsamiq

Balsamiq
Balsamic
Description Balsamiq Mockups is a rapid wireframing tool that helps you Work Faster & Smarter. It reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard, but using a computer.
Verdict Quick to learn and put together wireframe designs with ease.
App type Installable app for Mac and Win and web app
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available on live prototypes via the web app only
Link balsamiq.com

Easee

Easee

Description Easee is a web animation tool for designers. Create smooth animations that can be exported as CSS so that you can import them into your own web project.
Verdict Short learning curve to bring your designs to life.
App type Wab app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Unknown ATM
Link easee.design

Flinto

Flinto
Flinto

Description Flinto lets designers quickly make interactive prototypes of their mobile, desktop, or web apps.
Verdict Comprehensive app, allowing you to create anything from simple tap-through prototypes to comprehensive prototypes with impress interactions. Sketch images can be imported and transitions and user behaviours can be easily added.
App type Mac app and web app (Flinto Lite)
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Feedback available in the tool and shared projects
Link flinto.com

Fluid

Fluid
Fluid

Description Easier web and mobile app prototyping for people who care about products
Verdict Powerful and easy to learn. Design or upload screens and add animated interactions
App type Web app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Invite collaborators and stakeholders to review and comment on your prototypes
Link fluidui.com

Form

Form
Form

Description Build and customize native prototypes directly on device. Prototype with the latest material design components, touch ripples, and more.
Verdict Prototype mobile apps. Fair decent learning curve
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link relativewave.com/form/

Framer

Framer
Framer

Description Design the impossible with Framer. Start with simple code to bring your design to life. Test it on any device, iterate as you go and share easily for feedback. Pioneer new interaction patterns or create groundbreaking animation. No limits, no constraints.
Verdict A great tool for prototyping complex interaction designs and animations for mobile
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link framer.com/

Hype

Hype
Hype

Description Create beautiful HTML5 web content. Interactive web content and animations made with Tumult Hype work on desktops, smartphones and iPads. No coding required.
Verdict Uses a keyframe-based animation system, however this comes with a high learning curve. It’s a good tool for websites prototyping.
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link tumult.com/hype

Invision

Invision
Invision

Description The world’s leading prototyping, collaboration & workflow platform. Upload your design files and add animations, gestures, and transitions to transform your static screens into clickable, interactive prototypes.
Verdict Low learning curve and it is well supported int he community
App type Web app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available with user testing
Link invisionapp.com

Justinmind

Justinmind
JustinMind

Description Justinmind provides the best solution to prototype web and mobile apps. You can define apps for Web, iOS, and Android in a few clicks, without writing a single line of code.
Verdict Can create sophisticated prototypes with great tools, however there is fairly decent learning curve. The Free version is very limiting.
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Present your prototype and invite stakeholders to give feedback
Link justinmind.com

Keynotopia

Keynotopia
Keynotopia

Description Keynotopia transforms Keynote and PowerPoint into the best rapid prototyping tools for creating mobile, web and desktop app mockups
Verdict Low learning curve
App type Requires Keynote, Powerpoint or OpenOffice
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration No feedback tool provided
Link keynotopia.com

Marvel

Marvelapp
Marvel

Description Simple design, prototyping and collaboration. Create screens directly in Marvel or add your images from Sketch or Photoshop, then add gestures and transitions.
Verdict Create prototypes for the iPhone, iPad, Desktop, Apple TV, Apple Watch and Andrpoid
App type Web app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Clients and colleagues can comment directly on each screen or drop annotations
Link marvelapp.com

MockFlow

Mockflow
Mockflow

Description MockFlow is an online design suite providing collaborative web services for creative designers and usability engineers
Verdict A good tool for wireframing websites. A fair learning curve.
App type Web app
Fidelity Lo
Collaboration Feedback tool available
Link mockflow.com

Mockingbird

Mockingbird
Mockingbird

Description Mock up an application and show what’s important: the idea, the information, the interaction
Verdict A good tool for wireframing websites
App type Web app
Fidelity Lo
Collaboration Clients and teammates can edit wireframes with you in real time
Link gomockingbird.com

Mockplus

Mockplus
Mockplus

Description Fast interaction, fast design, fast previewing and fast learn. No code or technical expertise required. Prototype design is easier than ever.
Verdict Great for websites and mobile apps. Fair learning curve
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link mockplus.com

Origami

Origami
Origami

Description Explore, iterate, and test your ideas. A new tool for designing modern interfaces. Copy anything from Sketch and paste native layers into Origami Studio. Then quickly adjust, add behavior and animate any layer property without going back.
Verdict Perfect for creating sophisticated mobile prototypes with realistic animations and interactions
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link origami.design

Principle

Principle
Principle

Description Principle makes it easy to design animated and interactive user interfaces. Whether you’re designing the flow of a multi-screen app, or new interactions and animations, Principle lets you create designs that look and feel amazing.
Verdict Quick to learn
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link principleformac.com

Proto.io

Proto.io
Proto.io

Description Create fully-interactive high-fidelity prototypes that look and work exactly like your app should. No coding required.
Verdict Easy to make a quick mock-up using the extensive library of ui elements and nice transitions are available. Quite a high learning curve.
App type Web app with players for iOS and Android
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Reviewer accounts are available for clients to give feedback
Link proto.io

UXpin

UXpin
Unpin

Description Speedy wireframing. Seamless transition from wireframes to mockups & prototypes. Fully collaborative across the entire UX design process.
Verdict Great for websites and mobile apps. Supported by a large community and extensive libraries.
App type Web app
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Easily to share prototypes with stakeholders and gather feedback
Link uxpin.com

Vectr

Vectr
Vectr

Description Vectr is a free graphics software used to create vector graphics easily and intuitively. It’s a simple yet powerful web and desktop cross-platform tool to bring your designs into reality.
Verdict Prototypes can be designed on the web or desktop app for Win and Mac and are kept in sync. Not as feature rich as other apps atm, however this will change.
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Lo to hi
Collaboration Collaboration is on the roadmap
Link vectr.com

Webflow

Webflow
Webflow

Description Build dynamic, responsive websites without writing code. Launch with a click, and enjoy the fastest, most reliable hosting on the web. Or export clean, semantic code to hand off to your devs.
Verdict Webflow gives you the power to build websites your way — visually — while producing clean, standards-compliant HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that developers will love. The down side being a high learning curve.
App type Web app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Shared projects (Team version only), no feedback through tool
Link webflow.com

Xcode

Xcode
Xcode

Description Xcode 8 includes everything you need to create amazing apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.
Verdict Perfect for cutting down on redundant work and misunderstandings when designing and developing mobile apps. Software engineers can immediately iterate the work of a designer. A pretty steep learning curve.
App type Mac app
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration No feedback tool
Link developer.apple.com/xcode/

XD

XD
XD

Description Go from idea to prototype faster with Experience Design CC, the first all-in-one cross-platform tool for designing and prototyping websites and mobile apps.
Verdict Easy to use and powerful
App type Installable app for Mac and Win
Fidelity Hi
Collaboration Feedback tool available
Link adobe.com/uk/products/experience-design.html

Get your FREE UX Prototyping Tools Comparison Table

A handy comparison table of the top 24 UX Prototyping tools to help you make a choice.

Download my FREE 24 UX Tools Comparison Table >

UX Prototyping Tools Comparison Table

Need help prototyping?

Our in house team of UX Design and Research Experts have unrivalled experienced with mobile prototyping design and research – our experience goes right back to the first ever smartphone don’t you know 😉

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Inspiration: Mockplus

Lisa’s BBC Radio Appearance

bbc radio manchester

If you were up early this morning and listening to BBC Radio Manchester, you’ll have heard Lisa Duddington of Keep It Usable chatting with Allan Beswick.

Lisa was invited to appear on Allan’s show following her recent success at being shortlisted for 2 women in business awards, the award ceremony of which will be held next week.

The topic of focus for the interview was today’s news as well of course as some discussion of usability, research, tech and women in business.

Allan told Lisa of his own frustrations with websites:
“If I had control of the world… I would require all websites to operate the same way, because when you’re looking for something, looking for a product or a service or whatever, you go to one website, you’ve got to spend ten minutes, quarter of an hour trying to navigate it, you go to another one – it’s entirely different! What’s the point of that?…So many of them are counterintuitive”.
Lisa and Allan also discussed the importance of research, prototyping and usability in a world where you don’t get second chances with customers:
“Lisa: A lot of companies underestimate the amount of research and testing and prototyping that you need to do on anything, be it a hard product or a website or an iPhone app. You really do just need to spend quite a bit of time testing it and researching it with real people, people like yourself, to make sure that it is easy to use and it is going to be a success and that it does meet people’s needs and their wants… What we would do is we would go in and do the research for them so as opposed to just launching something and hoping people like it. We would do research beforehand to make sure that they do like it before you spend all that money on launching a product.

Allan: Because a customer driven away is a customer that never comes back…

Lisa: Exactly! And not only do they not come back but they tell thousands of people on social media not to come back.”
If you missed the show, you can still listen to Allan and Lisa on BBC Radio Manchester’s Allan Beswick show. Just fast forward to 44:30 and 1:17:35 to hear Lisa’s parts.