I picked up a copy of The Elements of User Experience - User Experience for the Web and Beyond by Jesse James Garret.
Three things really jumped out at me.
1.) Over all my response to reading Jesse’s book was one of vindication. Earlier in my career during my tenure as a product manager I had to create and defend methodologies for strategy, scope definition, UI design, and iterative product refinement. With no formal training I did what seemed logical. Adding to the challenge was the necessity to navigate a complex organizational structure, deliver on a quarterly release cycle, and manage an offshore development team. I think that it’s dealing with these “soft” challenges are the most difficult.
Mr James offers cogent advice. When facing challenges around product or release scope the author holds up the importance of the strategy as the foundation upon which every layer of the product is to be defined and built. This is particularly challenging when emotions get the best of product stakeholders. Its nothing personal… but all decisions about whats in or out needs to be based on strategy.
2.) The foundation of Jesse James’s philosophy is to look at application design as a five tiered structure consisting of: Strategy, Scope Structure, Skeleton, Surface. As I’ve been formally trained in Architecture this concept really resonated with me. My philosophy and the way that I was taught to practice architecture was that the design of space and structure is the result of a rigorous analysis of the environment, history, culture, and expected use patterns of the project. The design of the elements of the building, ie, program, structure, mechanical systems, and enclosure are a solution to the site and program analysis. An almost direct correlation can be made between these architectural elements and the Elements of User Experience proposed by Jesse James.
3.) The categorization of all products into either Product as Functionality or Product as Information was interesting. Jesse James believes that both types of products would utilize the same five tiers of Strategy, Scope, Structure, Skeleton, and Surface, however each tier takes on special characteristics based on which of the two product categories are in play. Having never worked in content publishing before it was helpful to see Jesse compare and contrast the two.