User Outcomes: Traditional UX vs. Value Paths

Traditional UX Design:
Value Paths:

A big problem with Traditional UX's user outcome toolkit (user personas, customer journey maps, even Jobs To Be Done): it assumes that if you can take care of in-app behavior, user outcomes will take care of themselves.Here's the kind of thinking that we DON'T recommend:

Traditional logic, in a nutshell: The better the user journey map / user persona β†’ the better the product experience. The better the product experience β†’ the better users get value.

The problem with the above line of thinking is that a user outcome (like going on a date) is a result of more than just using the product (matching with someone and using the chat). It's the result of a process β€” match, make a good first impression, spark a connection, set a time and place to meet, andΒ only thenΒ go on a date.Delivering the user outcome more reliably is not just a question of improving the product, it also means better using the product to support the process of attaining the outcome.Focused on using user outcomes for "product improvement," we miss asking key "process support" questions like:

  • Which user outcomes are actually taking place?
  • Of all the user outcomes we can support with the product, which ones do users most desire?
  • Of the outcomes our users desire, which ones will create the most revenue for us?

Traditional UX doesn't ask these questions. And so relegates itself to gesturing towards user value, instead of actively making it happen. User journeys look like a list of activities the company wants users to perform. User personas become go-to inspiration for better compositions of rectangles. JTBD becomes focused on the point at which people become customers instead of the process of actually fulfilling the Job.

Asking process questions means looking beyond the product to your offering as a whole. The paradigm shift is to stop thinking of the value you provide as access to your product and instead think of your value as a reliable means for attaining the results your users care about. It's a very different paradigm.

What Value Paths focuses on more than anything else is distinguishing from designing within terms of space and designing within terms of time.We're more concerned about the sequence of actions that needs to take place for user outcomes to be fulfilled, rather than how can we use user outcomes as inspiration to change the aspect ratio of the rectangles, or use a different grid layout, or rework the main navigation.

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