Category Archives: product management


Structure Plane

Word: Structure plane

Definition: The third plane of Jesse James Garrett’s “Five Planes of User Experience” which focuses on interaction design and information architecture.

Thoughts: The previous planes help identify objectives and requirements but it is in the structure phase that the actual product functionality and information architecture is defined. The mental model begins to shift at this phase of development. The designer stops thinking broad strokes and abstract ideas and she begins to focus in on concrete details.

The structure plane works to set in place the interaction design, information architecture, conceptual models, error handling, and team roles and process.

Strap in folks, there is no turning back now!



Scope Plane

Word: Scope plane

Definition: The second plane of Jesse James Garrett’s “Five Planes of User Experience” which focuses on functional specifications and content requirements.

Thoughts: The plane before “scope” is “strategy”. The UX process transitions into the scope phase once the user needs are translated into product objectives and requirements. This plane is an extremely important step in unifying the entire team by establishing a reference point and a common language to use throughout the product’s development.

The scope plane works to set in place the product content and functionality by defining and prioritizing those requirements.


Strategy Plane

Word: Strategy plane

Definition: The first plane of Jesse James Garrett’s “Five Planes of User Experience” which focuses on product objectives and user needs.

Thoughts: UX Strategy is the foundation for a successful product and an important first step in product creation. Before beginning a project, it is important to understand firstly what the product is setting out to accomplish and secondly, what user needs are being addressed. Hence, this should be your “lightbulb moment”.

The strategy plane works to set in place the product objects and the business goals while working to define success metrics and brand identity.


lightbulb gfx credit


The Five Planes

Word: Jesse James Garrett’s model of understanding the entire user experience process by providing a conceptual framework. The five planes include: Strategy, Scope, Structure, Skeleton, and Surface.

Thoughts: The planes are structured bottom to top from most to least abstract. In Garrett’s quintessential UX book The Elements of User Experience Garrett explains the structure as such:

“On the lowest plane, we are not concerned with the final shape of the site, product, or service at all — we only care about how the site will fit into our strategy (while meeting the needs of our users). On the highest plane, we are only concerned with the most concrete details of the appearance of the product.” (pg 21)

The plane structure helps a UX practitioner navigate a product over time, from initial strategy, across development, and through launch. They key to UX is understanding the user’s relationship with a product every step of the way. Garrett’s method provides a mental checklist to ensure conscious decision-making.

Questions: Do you find Garrett’s abstraction of the UX process helpful or too convoluted?


Success Metrics

Word: Success Metrics

Definition: Indicators that are tracked after a product is launched to determine whether it is meeting project objectives and user needs, as articulated in the UX strategy.

Thought: Success metrics are an important part of understanding project objectives and then ultimately defining whether or not these objectives have been met . Meeting a set of success metrics provides direct evidence and indication of the UX contribution and value to the set project.

UX Matters wrote an article about success metrics which points out three key, high-level UX metrics that are worth tracking. These are a great place to start!

  • Usability – How easily can a user accomplish what they set out to do
  • Engagement  How much users interact with the site or application (be cautious because this metic is notoriously hard to track and findings can easily include lurking variables)
  • Conversion rate – Percentage of users who take a desired action. This can be used as one of the strongest ROI arguments for better UX, increased research time, more funding, etc

Question: What do you use to define the success of your products?


Power Users

Word: Power User

Definition: Someone who operates a computer or device at an advanced skill level with knowledge and/or experience that is not typical of an average user. Sometimes referred to as a super user. 

Thoughts: UX designers need to consider all user types when designing and that includes both the power user and the beginner. This can lead to a tricky situation because a dumbed-down interface will frustrate the power user, while a complex interface will scare off the beginner. There is no secret formula, unfortunately, but I can still offer a few helpful keep-in-the-back-of-your-mind thoughts!

Games are great examples of interfaces that progress as a user essentially levels-up and gains knowledge. This way it teaches a novice the basics while providing and unlocking features for the power user. As gamification continues to penetrate UX thinking, games can offer quite a bit of insight and inspiration.

However, another school of thought says that all products should be accessible and usable by everyone at all times and that the seamlessness integration of all types of users is the beauty of great design. I can dig this too!

Question: In what situations do you consider yourself a power user? As a power user do you look for VIP treatment?


Status Quo Bias

Word: Status quo bias

Definition: The cognitive bias that says people typically prefer consistency over change. The tendency to like things to stay relatively the same, which forms a baseline in the mind. Any change from this consistent baseline is perceived as a loss.

Thought: This psychological principle plays into the theory of loss aversion. Status quo bias can be reduced however, by exposing users to other choices (assuming, somewhat obviously, that those choices were equivalent or better than the current option). The lesson here is that change is best accepted by users when introduced incrementally.

In Chris Nodder’s book Evil By Design he uses an amazing metaphor to describe illustrate this cognitive principle,

“If you place a frog in hot water, it does its best to hop straight out. However, if you place it in cold water and then heat the water up slowly enough, the frog won’t attempt to jump out.”

Essentially, Nodder wants us all to think of our users as frogs, and I’m down with that!

Question: Can you think of a good example that refutes this? How can we make the frog stay in the hot water from the beginning?


Enterprise Software

Word: Enterprise software

Definition: Software, sometimes referred to as B2B, is designed to solve  internal organizational needs. These organizations can include businesses, schools, retailers, and governments.

Thoughts: Essentially, enterprise software is used by employees, not consumers. While these internal applications and products are necessary to get work done and typically mandated within an organization, this does not mean they should be neglected. Employees are users too and organizations have begun to realize this. As a result, enterprise software has seen some increased love and attention from the UX community.

Enterprise is near and dear to my professional heart and I believe are at a point where great UX should be expected in all contexts. Productivity and user engagement should be at the forefront of all software development, even if it is not client or customer facing.

Read about recent enterprise love and attention here, here, and here. Dare I say, something once so mundane is getting trendy?!

Question: What’s the worst enterprise software experience you have even been forced to endure? How would you fix it?


Double Diamond Process Model

Word: Double diamond process model

Definition: A graphical representation of the design process by breaking it into phases (discover, define, develop, and deliver). Each mode of thinking is displayed through diverging and converging paths.

Reference: The model was developed by the UK Design Council in 2005 to simplify the mapping of the design process.

Thoughts: Yes, I know it kind of looks like a maze, but let’s play follow the leader. The discovery portion typically includes a variety of research methodologies to better understand user needs. Next is the define phase is when the discoveries are aligned with business needs. This is followed by development where design solutions are developed and tested. And finally, the double diamond concludes with delivery, which includes final testing phases, approval and product launch. Don’t forget, that the beauty of this method is the diverging and converging of phases. Make sure not to slip down the waterfall.




Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Word: Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Definition: The smallest experiment that either proves or disproves assumptions about a business idea.

Thought: The MVP it is commonly misunderstand to mean the minimum feature set needed to create a working product. In that case, it might be better to use the MoSCoW Method instead which is created to facilitate feature prioritization.

Reference: The term minimum viable product was coined by SyncDev CEO Frank Robinson and later popularized by IMVU founder Eric Ries. For a deeper look on this topic the article “Putting the VP into MVP” on UX Booth is a great place to start.