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UX Roadmap: definition and structure

The UX roadmap is a strategic document that provides a high-level view of the overall User eXperience (UX), as well as customer needs, UX design business objectives, features to achieve them, etc.

The creation of an effective digital product that provides excellent UX should be centered on a clear roadmap. This document should broadly describe the process to be accomplished and offer helpful tips for achieving UX goals.

What is a UX roadmap?

The UX roadmap refers to an evolving action plan that provides a well-directed guidance and a common sense of direction for the UX team. This is done with the goal of improving the quality of the user experience and delivering value to customers.

The UX Design roadmap describes all the steps to be followed and the projected dates of completion of these tasks, to achieve the previously established numerical objectives to optimize the UX. This document also identifies the resources that need to be allocated to the project, and the possible risks that are associated with the established objectives.

Since UX roadmaps provide a macroscopic view of the overall UX, as a result, they don't need to go into the details of the UX design process. In fact, these documents should be clear, concise and easy to understand, so that each member of the stakeholder team can return to them, if needed.

The benefits of creating a UX roadmap

UX roadmaps are very useful for these reasons:

  • Optimize the project management of the UX design.
  • Create a single view of user needs and possible solutions to meet them.
  • Highlight and prioritize ideas and options for improvement.
  • Integrate the user experience dimension early in the project. This helps to get team members on board with UX goals and ensure a more lucid understanding of those goals. This ensures more consistent collaboration among stakeholder team members, with the goal of optimizing product usability and improving its UX.
  • Evaluate the impact of developed updates on the quality of the user experience. For example, the product team can compare any changes made in the product roadmap (such as redesigning a user interface or creating a new design) against the goals of the UX roadmap. This evaluation allows it to ensure that this change still aligns with the UX roadmap goals.

The stakeholders of a UX roadmap

The scope of the actors concerned by the UX roadmap is made up of all the cross-functional skills involved such as:

  • Customers: the UX roadmap helps the customer in their purchase decision.
  • The sales and marketing team: this document helps this team identify customer expectations and optimize their sales strategies.
  • Designers: this document helps designers create a more elaborate and robust design over the long term, which can withstand against potential problems.
  • The various other disciplines such as the business leader, product owner, executive team, etc. These stakeholders can base their strategies on the goals of the UX roadmap to make more deliberate decisions.

Aspects of a successful UX roadmap

The UX roadmap fulfills its mission when it guides the stakeholder team toward the effective achievement of UX goals. To do this, this document must align with these principles:

  • It must be focused on user research. Thus, it should be based on the qualitative and quantitative methods of the UX research stage, to bring out the users' problems to be solved.
  • It must be centered on the user, rather than on the product's features. Indeed, we must start from the needs and feelings of the user to be able to design the features adapted to his uses and expectations.
  • It must be dynamic and alive, changing as new market trends, consumer habits, new technologies, etc.

How do you create a UX design roadmap?

The development of a UX design roadmap begins with an analysis of the problem to be solved and discuss it with the relevant managers and stakeholder teams. Thereafter, these professionals can embark on creating the roadmap, following these steps:

  • establish an ambitious UX vision of the right path to get to the desired destination. This vision is based on UX research findings, to align the user experience with customer expectations and create a link to the company's UX goals.
  • Create deep customer insights, including through the development of personas. This step is essential to define the challenges and enable customers to achieve their goals effectively. As a result, the company can evolve its product, while taking into account the needs of users and optimize it according to the recommendations from interviews and user tests.
  • Specify success metrics that encompass indicators to analyze user behaviors and attitudes, such as conversions and level of retention and satisfaction.
  • Define forecasted deadlines, with the goal of ensuring that the teams involved can achieve their priorities within the expected timeframe.
  • Make a diagram of all the procedures to be undertaken during product development.
  • Define the expected results after the roadmap milestones are achieved and verify that this plan enables the implementation of the company's vision.
  • Monitor the pace of change and progress through the project.
  • Identify usability issues that degrade the product's UX and share a unified vision, among stakeholders (designers, developers, product owner, etc.), regarding which defects, in particular, are the highest priority to address first.
  • Define UX design guidelines: these principles help UX designers make the right decisions to create a well-thought-out design.

The making of this document can be done through different techniques: a slide, a spreadsheet, post-its pasted on a board, etc.

2 main tools for building a UX roadmap

Story mapping

Story mapping is one of the key tools for the Product Owner. It is a simple graphical representation of the user journey and the different functionalities that the product is supposed to offer. This mapping is developed during a fun agile workshop, in order to provide the product team with a global vision of the different user uses, the features accomplished and those not yet realized.

The story map is defined along two axes:

  • a horizontal axis that defines time.
  • a vertical axis that describes the actions to be performed by the user.

Since this is a user-friendly workshop, participants use post-its and colors, with the goal of creating a more expressive visual mapping. This replaces long meetings to set the ideal user flow. This makes work more flexible and attractive.

Story mapping allows the Product Owner to establish a complete Product Backlog that defines the product features and set of features (organized in order of priority) that are ready to move to the development stage.

Impact mapping

Impact mapping is a graphical representation of possible ideas to achieve a given goal. The goal of this mapping is not only to succeed in achieving the required functionality, but also to achieve the desired goals.

Impact mapping is an effective communication medium, which aims to foster collective creativity to generate relevant ideas to advance toward desired goals.

This holder contains 4 elements:

  • The goal to be achieved.
  • The actors who help achieve the intended goal and those who cripple that journey.
  • The impacts to be exerted on actors to achieve the goal.
  • The initiatives to be adopted to achieve the envisioned impacts.

 

The 3 types of UX roadmaps

The types of UX roadmaps differ according to these criteria: the objectives, the context of realization and the type of target audience. We distinguish these types:

Product Roadmap

This roadmap bypasses all product-related issues, including UX, design, development, support, marketing, etc. In addition, it incorporates issues related to user needs, competitors, and product value.

The product roadmap is a fundamental tool for product owners. They use it (in collaboration with the other members involved) to map out the strategy to be adopted to align with the company's vision and strategy. This helps to define everyone's role and to prioritize and establish approximate deadlines for the implementation of the different steps of the roadmap.

On the other hand, it serves as a powerful tool to assess the fit of UX goals with market needs. This helps the product team base its strategy on customer needs and prioritize at each stage of product development.

The product roadmap is a powerful communication medium that connects several players from different disciplines. Indeed, it creates a strong synergy between the design, development, marketing, sales, content marketing, management, etc. team. This cohesion allows for the planning of the different processes of creating or optimizing the product, throughout the development cycle, in order to adapt it to the customer's expectations.

The product roadmap provides an overview of the interconnections between different departments, the issues that may arise during development, and how to act to achieve the overall product goals. Note that only one roadmap can be established for each product.

Field Roadmap

This roadmap is for all future issues closely related to UX such as UX search, information architecture, content, etc. Unlike the product roadmap, a field roadmap can be created for multiple products.

This roadmap is developed by the UX managers (UX designer, UX Researcher, UX Architect, etc) to get the other stakeholders on board with the user-centric approach, which represents the foundation of the project's UX vision.

The field roadmap provides a holistic view of all the objectives of the different UX disciplines and all the UX design stages (UX research, UX design, wireframing, prototyping, etc), while using a high-level representation that doesn't deal with the details.

Thus, each collaborator can view the roles and assignments of their colleagues, from this document, to more easily communicate about the project.

This paper also identifies potential issues that may be encountered by UX professionals that may affect the quality of the user experience.

This tool is employed in conjunction with the product roadmap to optimize the driving of the overall experience.

Specialty Roadmap

This roadmap represents a subset of the field roadmap and focuses on a single UX discipline, such as UX design or UX writing. This roadmap highlights the problems that this discipline needs to solve, in addition to the resources and players involved.

Specialty Roadmaps can be established by all UX departments. On the other hand, they can also be created by ResearchOps or DesignOps roles, or by small structures or independent professionals who want to easily map out future issues that may be holding back the implementation of their strategies. Indeed, these roadmaps are easy to create and do not require considerable time or effort to complete.

The specialty roadmap presents a clear visualization of the assignments of each problem and the members who are working on it. This document shares insight into the appropriateness of resource allocation and workload distribution.

Closing Remarks

Every company must focus on the most functional strategy that allows it to achieve its business goals and provide customers with a better user experience. The UX roadmap presents itself as an effective means to this end.

The purpose of the UX Design roadmap is to document all the actions and decisions needed to achieve the planned UX objectives. This includes the UX vision, customer insight, product value, etc.

The company can choose between different types of roadmaps (product roadmap, field roadmap, or specialty roadmap), depending on the nature of its product, the problems it plans to solve, and the resources it needs to allocate, with the goal of ensuring an experience that lives up to users' expectations.

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