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How Much User Experience Effort by Types of Release

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The level of user experience effort that is practical for a given release depends, to some extent, on the type of release—that is, whether it is a major release, a minor release, or an update. Table 1 provides a summary of guidelines for the UX effort that is recommended for each type of release.

Table 1—UX effort guidelines by type of release

Type Release ID UCD Recommendations
New 1.0
  • Substantial market, customer, competitive, and user research
  • Substantial validation of workflows with customers
  • Substantial user interface design
  • Substantial usability testing with users
Major X.x
  • Market, customer, competitive, and user research, as necessary
  • Validation of workflows with customers
  • User interface design
  • Usability testing with users
Minor x.X
  • No market, customer, competitive, or user research unless absolutely necessary
  • Minimal validation of workflows with customers
  • Minor user interface design
  • Minor usability testing with users
Update x.x.X
  • No market, customer, competitive, or user research
  • No validation of user interface workflows with customers unless absolutely necessary
  • Minimal user interface design
  • Minimal usability testing with users

New Products or Major Releases

For major releases, you must ensure UX designs for new features are effective, efficient to use, and delightful to customers and users. Conduct user research as necessary to ensure you have a deep understanding of your target customers and users. Validate your product’s workflows with target customers and users. Develop user experience designs that support the market, business, and customer needs. Conduct usability tests with users to ensure ease of use. Work closely with Development to ensure design integrity.

Minor Releases

For minor releases, if time and resources permit, ensure new features adhere to industry-standard best practices. Validate your product’s workflows with SMEs, Development, customers, and users, as necessary. Develop your user experience design, along with business use cases. Conduct usability tests with target customers and users. Work closely with Development to ensure design integrity.

Updates

If an update includes revisions to one or more features to solve known usability issues, ensure those features adhere to industry-standard best practices, if time and resources permit. Validate workflows with SMEs, Development, customers, and users, as necessary. Iterate your user experience designs, as necessary. Conduct usability tests or reviews with target customers and users. Work closely with Development to ensure design integrity.

Conclusion

Each company must determine their user experience investment, depending on the size of their company, the maturity of their market, and the lifecycle of their product solution. User experience is the key to designing elegant products, establishing distinct competencies, and winning markets. Companies in mature markets must consistently get this right to maintain their leadership, while companies in new, fast, and innovative markets must be agile, adapt rapidly, and adopt accelerated usability methods.

Ultimately, it is up to your company to decide how much user experience effort makes sense in support of its overall business strategy. Many large companies have made heavy investments in user experience for years, but smaller companies must balance user experience investment against other demands on corporate resources.

This blog series is based on the article Winning in the Marketplace: How Much User Experience Effort Does It Take?

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