Planning design ahead

One of the questions that has kept me awake last weeks is ‘how can you create design visions?’ , how can you set a direction of the path the design is taking. How can you set goals for design five years ahead. For business planning these questions are still tough but they’ve got a history of business planning of several centuries to get inspiration from, and they have the numbers, so their goals are more easy to measure. For example: By the end of the year we want to have ten mayor clients and a turn over of one million, check at the end of the year, 9 clients, nine hundred thousand turnover, almost there only ten percent off.

Measuring user experience
Design is measurable in goals of clicks, visits and conversion, but does this equal user experience too? If your conversion goes up by 10 %, does that mean the user experience went up by 10% too? One way of approaching this problem is by measurement, although not as easy as financial goals, there are several methods available to measure user experience, and get their experience expressed in numbers (for example see here: Measuring Usability and a paper about Single Usability Metric or Usability Benchmarking or the work of Nigel Bevan and this great thread) This might solve the problem of measuring how usable your product is, and might even being capable of measuring some emotional states. And therefore you could start expressing statements, as our overall user experience is now 7.1 by the end of the year I want it up to 8.0. For those who love numbers this is a wonderful method, is does not really solve the problems of design visions though. As Donald Norman states in his book, ‘as easy it is to create usable products, it can be pretty hard to create useful products. For usable most times applying the rule ‘simple is better’ will the job, and eventually you will end up producing hammers and nails.

Future visions
An other popular but more expensive way is the future visions that Microsoft and IBM for example push out every year