about contact us

No posts containing your search terms were found.

Your search did not match any documents.


  • * Make sure all words are spelled correctly.

  • * Try different keywords.

  • * Try more general keywords.

Priority Mapping

. wandereye

The Digital Innovation Group has been working on evolving a concept introduced by a former colleague of mine named Joseph Dombroski, a User Experience Architect in the Chicago-Area. A priority map traditionally "road maps" various efforts, contingencies and influences, and the hierarchy of importance inherent within the efforts. It is traditionally used for engineering and software design, some business strategy from a tactical and mostly logistical perspective. 

Practicing User Experience for many years now, a thread I've found common to much of my endeavors is something some refer to as "parallel industry" examples that may speak to a design problem or issue or challenge in ways that answer questions or provide examples of possible directions we can take to innovate in another "parallel industry". An example of this would be priority mapping as applied to a design and user experience development and production process. 

One of the challenges when designing in multi-disciplinary and collaborative teams is dealing with agendas and incentives that drive various "stakeholders" and "players" working towards an "end goal." No matter what the "end goal" is, I've been on many projects where line of sight to the end goal(s) are obfuscated by insertion of agenda as "loudest voice in the room" or personal viewpoint anxiety derailment. What becomes more and more apparent during these moments of distraction, channel noise and argument, is that there needs to be a framework in place to guide and corral the discussions, prioritize efforts from the perspective of the "end goal" (and the business and user needs), focusing all work and conversation around the things that directly address the problems and needs at hand. 

Enter priority mapping for user experience. Priority mapping for UX takes into consideration everything from high level strategy to relative proportion of objects, content, functionality, in addition to "progressive disclosure" by answering to "changing modes" within a customer's intent or the system reflecting answers to that intent. Priority mapping for UX does not specify layout or design language. Priority mapping starts with the human need and expectation for value and backs out to gain perspective on a holistic view of an experience captured within modes and states (a "page" for example). Here's the process as it's evolved thus far:

1. through collaboration with all parties involved with the ideation and production of a final deliverable or solution, facilitate alignment with the "end use" goals throughout the team.

2. Based on these goals, do a content audit to see where existing assets can be leveraged and where new ones may need to be created. 

3. A user story or scenario helps (but be careful not to stereotype or assume) to provide a structure to demonstrate a "path" through an experience. 

4. Coalescing 1-3, "map" out the "high level" content "blocks" within a "mode" (window, browser...). Once the blocks have been identified, providing high level themes for an experience offering, it's time to work collaboratively to identify the "priority" and "proportion" of content, blocks or functionality relative to other content blocks. 

5. Using the finite space of a box (4:3 ratio or 16:9 ratio), come up with percentages of importance or "primary focus" vs "peripheral" or "secondary" focus. These percentages can drive the creation of the priority map in the sense that they are represented within the box by the amount of size each takes up. See Smartmoney's "Map of the Market" for an example of how relative proportion can be used to show volume and weight.

The priority map, once "finished" can evolved based on discussions and iterations. It can be used as a way to focus efforts and thinking on the end goals and work actively towards de-scoping, channel noise or irrelevancy. It is also a great resource to convey a solid direction and strategy that answers to the understanding needs of non-UX influences within the production process. 

As this is a new process and still evolving, I can show no examples from Sears as the work on the table utilizing this method is proprietary and confidential to Sears internal employees only. If you work at Sears, are interested in priority mapping, please reach out to me so I can walk and talk you through some examples and show the process.


Post a Comment

<< Home