Those who’ve read my blog know that I’m a huge fan of putting the audience first. What’s the point of crafting a communication that your audience won’t understand or not want to listen to you? It just doesn’t make any sense to me to waste time on communications you’re not sure will be received correctly.

Another discipline that focused on users and customers is design thinking. Many of you may already have heard a ton about it – it’s essentially applying methods and disciplines used by designers to business strategy. It’s frequently used in product or service development, but I see how some of the biggest tools in the design thinking toolbox can be used to help you present your ideas more effectively. And yes, many of these tricks are also in the UX/UI professional’s toolbox.

  • Empathy mapping – empathy maps are created through one-on-one interviews or observing key stakeholders. You get information by asking those stakeholders exactly what you think you’d ask them: about how certain situations make them feel. Here’s a nice explanation from Studio by UX Pin
  • Customer journeys – design thinkers will interview and observe customers or other stakeholders use their products or services and then note the experience that stakeholders have with their product or service along the entire value chain. You can do this for your communications goals, too. Think about where they are now, how they’ve interacted with you in the past, and the various interactions they’ve had. Put those interactions into chronological order and then write notes about what went well, what didn’t, and the stakeholder’s overall feeling about those interactions. This will help you figure out what is and is not working – and may give you ideas on how to fix what’s not working. I like making these with markers and poster board, but you can do them online, too. Here’s an online tool by RealtimeBoard.
  • Problem statement – since you can really can spend forever learning how your stakeholders like to communicate, it helps to set some limits. Design thinkers scope out their projects with clear problem statements that have a standard formula: they are frequently in the form of a question (though I’ve heard debates on this one), they do not impose limitations (the scope of the project isn’t so small that adjustments can’t be made), they are actionable, they are specific, and human focused. Here’s a lovely write up on how to form your own problem statement by Thoughtbot.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive as design thinking could constitute it’s own blog – and it’s a topic we’ll definitely revisit again. But, as you conduct your stakeholder analysis and form your strategy, do consider employing some of these methods. You’ll have a lot more success!

Have you used any methods you’d like to share with other readers? Please share in the comments.