Designing better outcomes

Paul Hill - Experience Design Director

Paul Hill

Experience Design Director

We enhance people’s lives by designing digital products and services with better outcomes for our clients and their customers.

At Marker & Box this is our mission statement. In this post Paul explores what we mean when we say ‘better outcomes’. In the second part of this series, Rick will talk about how Marker & Box works with clients to achieve this.

To make it easier to define what we mean by outcomes, let’s start with what they are not.

Outputs

From an organisational perspective, we see outputs as the product/feature that’s shipped, a tangible deliverable, like presentable results of part of the process e.g. research report or show and tell slides. This makes measuring outputs fairly easy, and at some point, we’ve all been guilty of celebrating outputs before knowing their impacts.

Impacts

Impacts are the results that the outputs have generated. Usually, it is something like ‘we sold X more widgets’, ‘we reduced churn by X%’ or ‘we had a Y% increase in users’. Internally it might also be ‘we were within timelines and budget’, ‘velocity, burn etc’’ or ‘stakeholders are happy it finally shipped’.

In most cases the way in which outputs are celebrated and impacts are measured doesn’t take into account the customer experience during interactions with a product or service. Is the experience intuitive and frictionless? How does it affect their daily lives? Also important, internally, are teams able to work effectively, do they have the right insights, skills, and freedom to get their work done to a professional level with positive experiences.

Outcomes

If we are saying that outputs are something that is shipped and impacts are the results that are generated, then outcomes can be described as a measure of effectiveness and value, and the change in behaviour that correlates with business results.

The definition above, whilst quite general, tends to lean towards the side of business outcomes. We have already mentioned the teams responsible for delivery, and also the users who consume what the business offers. But what are their outcomes? We can break this down into:

  • Business outcomes – what customers do to affect, change and drive business results
  • Team outcomes – the effectiveness of how teams work. The value which they bring to the business.
  • User outcomes – the value and satisfaction that a product or service has. How it enhances their life.

Aligning Outcomes

Whilst a shift to outcome-focused design is a great first step, a successful product or service will look to align all outcomes.

A business shouldn’t solely concentrate on their own outcomes to the detriment of their teams and their customers. Teams shouldn’t just think about customer outcomes without considering how this relates to the wider impacts of the business. Customers seek better outcomes and if a business can’t fulfill these, they will move to another product or service that does.

It’s important to clearly define and align what each of the outcomes are for your business, your teams and your users. Outcome-focused design shifts the mindset from delivering features to understanding and measuring the benefit of products and services in a way that enhances people’s lives. At Marker & Box, this is one of the first things we do as part of our design process.

In part 2 of this blog series, Rick will explain how Marker & Box implements an outcome-focused design process.

‘Design Better Outcomes’ Workshop

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