Design Strategy Roadmap

In 1-2 weeks, get an actionable design brief—a strategy roadmap—outlining the goals, success criteria, and future design work you need to do to enable your business strategy to become successful. Because design is about UX—and about business results.

two lane road in the desert headed towards a mountain

There is no reason to spend a ton of time and money designing or implementing a data product, analytics solution or application without first knowing who it's for, how they will interact with it, and how they'll make decisions with the data.

Before you can effectively design,
you need a design strategy.

It is fairly easy to get the engineering and data portions of a data product "technically right," while being "effectively wrong." If it's not designed to be useful, usable, and engaging for customers, you won't produce value.

“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer…Therefore, any business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation.”
—Peter Drucker

You don't start a software product or application day 1 by writing code. Design is no different:

Sometimes my clients have a hard time understanding the difference between "the design" and a "design strategy."

Let me put it to you in software engineering speak since chances are, you probably are technical:

If you're building or developing a serious software product or application, you don't just start coding on day one with no architecture, planning, or direction in mind about where you are going.

Good product and UX design works the same way, unless you want to potentially waste a lot of time and money failing slowly because you wait until you have mockups and UI designs to clarify where you are going (and hopefully where the tech will follow, if it's not already too late to course correct). Designing with no plan at all can work, but it's slower, more expensive, and it relies a lot more on "hope" than strategy.

This service is the opposite of this approach. It provides an actionable plan so you can move into the UI/UX design implementation with less technical risk and more confidence that vision for your business, org, and end users is going to come together sooner.

Here's how it works:

What You'll Get in the Roadmap

  • A design brief (i.e. plan) describing the objectives and desired outcomes your solution needs to provide to your users in order to satisfy the stakeholder/organization objectives. It states the business objectives, user goals, and success metrics written in technology-free language that will facilitate alignment between business/product, data, design, and engineering teams. Together, we will:
    • Convert any vague project objectives into precise language since vague/ambiguous objectives often lead to myopic, implementation-driven solutions that result in a solution your customers won't use or care about.
    • Identify which personas (classes of users/stakeholders) or individual people should be involved in or satisfied by your design solution, and what type of research may need to be conducted with them to clearly inform what the design needs to accomplish.
    • Outline the user goals, business objectives, and desired business or organizational outcomes. Remember: Your design is only good or bad relative to the objectives you set out for it to accomplish. Many projects fail because the project objectives and problem space are ambiguous, undefined, or misunderstood across the parties (stakeholders, engineering/IT/analytics, data science, domain experts, etc.) It is fairly easy to get the engineering and data portions "technically right," but "effectively wrong" because they did not consider the human factors involved.
    • Identify any roadblocks that may need to be cleared to allow the strategy to work
    • De-risk any early technology decisions and choices (this plan will reduce the chance of building or buying the wrong product/vendor/technology stack as all parties will have more clarity on what the actual outcomes need to be)
  • Findings call and Q/A session with me:  on our video call together, I will present the strategy roadmap to you, talk you through it, and answer ask any questions you may have about it. If there are any important gaps or missing areas, I will address those, revise the plan, and follow up with you in a second call to ensure it is comprehensive.
  • A clear set of actionable next steps: by the time the findings call is over, I will make sure that you understand "what should I do next?" once you have the plan. Ultimately, a plan is meaningless if you don't take action on it.
  • Confidence in selecting a vendor for implementation: Whether you choose to work with me or not on implementing the design is up to you; my goal is that you'll have an informative plan that you can
    "shop around." It's a portable document you can take with you; you're not locked in to working further with me. This will help you have more effective conversations with your future partners, and it will help them understand "what does this person need from me?" You'll also be able to hold them to the plan and make them answer, "will your technology/work enable me to accomplish the strategy defined here?"
  • (4) Weeks of Retainer Access: Following our Findings Call, you will also have 24/7, unlimited access to me via email for (4) weeks to ask me any questions about the roadmap. If it feels like we need to move the discussion to the phone, we can find a mutually workable time to do that.

View a Sample Deliverable

Project: Deploying a Los Angeles County Covid-19 Neighborhood Risk Scoring Model to the Citizens

In conjunction with US Digital Response, I advised the Chief Data Officer and office of Los Angeles County on how they might deploy a new neighborhood-level Covid-19 risk scoring model that had been produced, but not operationalized in any way (software or otherwise). You can learn about the project, see a rough sketch, and watch the YouTube screencast in the final design brief produced (Google Doc). 

We needed Brian's approach…

I wondered at first whether Brian’s relative lack of experience in the patent/IP space would work with our team in the creation of a product like Legion, especially given the conservative, security-oriented corporate culture of Elysium. By the end, I realized just how much we needed Brian's approach, influence, and outside presence/energy to design a successful patent analysis tool. Brian made us think through the entire Legion product experience, and through this process, we learned to improve our own design skills. Today, our litigation consultants continue to use Legion regularly with clients. It has probably reduced collaboration overhead by 50% (which our clients love!) and allows consultants and clients to come together, using Legion’s data and analytics, to build shared understandings of patented inventions quickly.

Paul MattalPaul Mattal
Managing Director
Elysium Digital

Brian's designs and recommendations significantly shifted people’s excitement and expectations about our technology. He understands data.

A big concern when you’re introducing new technology to your staff and clients is making sure they will want to use it. We were concerned about the ease of use and appeal of a new survey data platform we were introducing, but Brian was really able to understand our challenges quickly. His design and recommendations significantly shifted people’s excitement and expectations around it. A big reason why we hired Brian is because he understands data, and the new design he created will only help reinforce GSG’s brand as being innovative and ahead of the curve. My team has been really impressed with Brian's ideas and the simplicity of the designs he created. I definitely recommend him!

Michelle WoodruffMichelle Woodruff
VP of Practice Operations
Global Strategy Group

How Long Does It Take and How Should You Prepare?

  • The roadmap can be done in as little as 1 week, depending on the size/scale of your company, initiative, and the clarity you have when we begin. Typical time frame is 1-2 weeks. I will likely need to collect materials and information from you prior to our first kickoff call in the form written documents/materials I may collect from you, as well as the information you share with me on the kickoff call.
  • The kickoff call is usually ~2 hours; you must be present for this as this is where the majority of the information I need will be gathered so I can work on the strategy document.
  • We may need to have a few follow-up calls depending on the size/scope of your project.
  • You can bring up to (1) partner, if you have one, to join you for any live calls we do. We will be digging deep on these calls, so make sure you are comfortable being fully transparent with your colleague. All other interactions will be between me and you only.

Fine Print

  • Payment is due up front, in full using a credit card via the Buy Now box below. If you must pay via ACH transfer, or bank wire, email me for payment instructions. Unfortunately, I cannot accept payment through third parties or any other method except for those stated here.
  • This packaged service is subject to the terms and conditions of my consulting services and the terms described on this page. In short, it is provided "as-is" to ensure the best value and fastest possible delivery.  No additions or modifications to these terms may be made.
  • On request, I can record the phone calls for you and send them to you.
  • This plan does not include me redesigning or designing your product/solution. It is advisory in nature, however we can discuss how I might be able to help you implement the strategy at the end of the engagement.
  • I will not be making vendor or technology recommendations for you as this is not my expertise, however, as stated earlier, this plan is very much intended to help guide your technology choices.

I can’t recommend Brian enough…

When Brian came on board, he helped us significantly accelerate our design efforts and meet our major enterprise clients’ expectations and deadlines. We have gotten a lot of mileage out of his work, and we've received good responses from our customers. I can’t recommend him enough.

Alex BeletskyAlex Beletsky
COO and Co-Founder

Brian brings a very high floor in terms of end results. The worst possible end result they will get from him is so much higher than what most designers can provide at their best.

When you’re bringing on a consultant, there is always a level of uncertainty about results, and there’s nothing worse than ending up with solutions that aren’t feasible, workable, or usable at the end of the process. While Brian’s processes differed from what I was used to, and I didn’t always want to get into the level of requirements detail that he felt was necessary, the bottom line is that Brian brings a very high floor in terms of end results. Given how many different responsibilities I am juggling at any given time, it was extremely comforting to know that my goals for the [new Apptopia analytics] product would always be met, and that my bottom line was so high. I’ve recommended Brian to my peers because the worst possible end result they will get from him is so much higher than what most designers can provide at their best.

Jonathan KayJonathan Kay
COO, Apptopia

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The Design Strategy Roadmap

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Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash.