“Capturing the whole user experience” – Indi Young

This was my favorite talk on the first day of UX week 07. Indi obviously have many years of experience behind her. Her method is appealing to me because I think it complements our Goal Directed method really well. The way that the diagram looks can be intimidating, one may quickly dismiss it as a task-based model or that it’s too much work. However, having used scenario-based brainstorming style for a while, I am a bit relieved to see a method that can help me get to a complete solution and I can feel like I’ve covered all the holes.

Indi’s method serves a systematic way of innovating. You can find the slides here.


My design partner and I brainstorm ideas while we orchestrate the “ideal context scenarios”. That serves as the context in which we derive our functional requirements for a product. There are problems I experienced with that during a recent LARGE project we were involved in:

  • How do we know we covered everything? During our research, we uncover a lot of data. We used them to generate user patterns, identify goals and motivations. But when it came to creating the “ideal usage scenario”, it was hard to know when we should stop. How do we know we’ve uncovered all the functional needs?! We iterated over and over again with stakeholders and SMEs and finally had to come to a stop. After it was all said and done, I wanted to find a method that will let us do that quicker and more systematically the next time.
  • How do we know the framework is complete or has a focus? Then we identify opportunities by comparing the functional chunks we came up with from the scenario, and we develop a framework to support them. It’s hard to know when your framework is complete.
  • Why don’t we put our ethnographic skills and our ability to see the big picture to help our business innovate? Design, in our organization, is relatively strategically placed in a development process. The project I am on now was a good example of that. We were able to do design research and work with the business stakeholders to flesh out the concept and strategy way before we talked about implementation. The product at the end was very in sync with user needs and has harmony with the business. But I’m not happy with just that. I think we can do better across our teams. Business ideas that often comes down the design pipeline are “gaps” that the business identifies as a priority. It comes from the research groups or someone hearing from a customer what they want. When that gap is dropped on our queue of to-dos, we then conduct research to try and understand the experience of the customer and how this one incidentally identified gap fits into their lives and how we can innovate on it. This is hand-off process is not problematic, but we have difficulty making decision around priorities. Sometimes it comes down to who screams the loudest to get a product idea implemented. Having a map such as the one suggested here, can serve as a pretty long term reference and strategic planning of opportunities.

I think Indi’s method will help us solve these problems. On top of that, this method helps us do these things also:

  • Visualize clearly what in your customer’s mental model is not supported by you or anyone else. Or what is not supported well.
  • Systematically find the biggest bang for the buck.
  • More easily and clearly identify business opportunities from user research.
  • Better document opportunities from a complete map.
  • Lastly and most importantly, help your design team involve in helping strategically positioning your business.

Here, Indi walks us through the movie going example she assembled a mental model for from real research:


She shows us how to identify opportunities and come up with ideas to innovate for the business:


I just found this mental model map from the Chamr project the Adapative Path team did. Indi blogged about it here.


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