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How We Craft A Great Experience Vision Story

by Jared M. Spool

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “Writing a story is easy. Just take out a sheet of paper and stare at it until your forehead starts to bleed.”

Writing a story for an experience vision can be difficult for our teams. We’re trying to predict what using our product or service could be like in the future. It’s hard enough to write about the present. Describing the future can be a daunting task.

Many teams fall into a trap. They believe they must predict what the future world of technology will be like. That quickly spirals into bad science fiction, trying to predict AI, alternative interaction methods, and other tropes best left to Sci-Fi futurists.

An Experience Vision isn’t a Science Fiction Story

For most experience vision stories, we don’t need to invent some new, futuristic technology. We don’t need to spend time exploring and wowing people with something they’ve never seen before. If we tell the right story, everyone will focus on the experience of the user.

Our vision story shouldn’t be set too far in the future. Five years out is good enough. Think of the technology you had five years ago. How truly different was it from what you have now?

Usually not that much. A few new, useful features, but mostly the same.

Remember, Apple’s Siri made her debut seven years ago. The Apple watch is more than three years old. And they weren’t the first of their kind.

Most “New technologies” like voice and wearables have been around for a while. Our five-year future vision should be set in a technological world that seems much like today’s.

We Need To Put The Experience Vision First

At the center of our great experience vision is the users’ experience. When we’re imagining a future story, we’re focused on one question: What’s the best experience for our users we can imagine?

All designers share a superpower. We all have the uncanny ability to solve well-defined problems.

I’ve worked with hundreds of teams. I’ve never met one that when presented with a solid understanding of how users struggle with our design, couldn’t come up with a wall full of great solutions.

Some of those solutions will be good. A few might even be great. Even fewer might be implementable. And, in all of that, there might be one that’s even practical and customers would pay for.

Start With The Experience of Today’s Users

When we understand the problems that frustrate our users, we have no trouble arriving at viable solutions. To craft a compelling, great story about the user’s future experience, we start with the user’s current experience.

We need to spend time with our users, listening and watching how they move through their day in the current world. When we do this, we’ll see what frustrates them. We’ll see where they spend time doing things that our designs could handle automatically. We’ll see how we can make the overall experience more delightful.

It can’t just be the UX researchers who spend time with our users. Everyone who we want to help compose the experience vision (and to subsequently sell it to the rest of the organization) needs to have this exposure.

When all the contributors have the same understanding about our users’ current experiences, they’ll join us in creating possible solutions. They can help us answer the critical question: What’s the best experience for our users we can imagine?

They’ll be sold on the solution because they’ll have had a say in its creation. They’ll understand the experience vision’s importance and how it’ll change the way we do business in the future.

Those team members will be our best advocates. With their help, our organization will deliver better-designed products and services. That’s the power of a great experience vision.

About the Author

Jared M. Spool is a co-founder of Center Centre and the founder of UIE. In 2016, with Dr. Leslie Jensen-Inman, he opened Center Centre, a new design school in Chattanooga, TN to create the next generation of industry-ready UX Designers. They created a revolutionary approach to vocational training, infusing Jared’s decades of UX experience with Leslie’s mastery of experience-based learning methodologies.

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