Tellagence MVP Story Wall

Being part of a five-person startup is something pretty swell.  I'm feeling a lot like I did just out of grad school in 1991 -- energized, caffeinated, and ready to go!  It is a joy to be designing the experience for a product that we believe will be really helpful for people trying to make some sense of social media marketing channels. Without buzzing on "Agile" or "Lean Start Up" UX, I'd like to talk about what we are doing to get a Minimum Viable Product with great user experience out to market.

Tellagence MVP Story WallIf you came to visit us, and looked around the room, you'd see most of the product UX spec existing on our walls -- -- constantly re-prioritized to get to MVP. A year ago, Matt and Nitin and I pulled together some Proto Personas for this product we are currently working on.  We focused on the essentials.  Who is this person?  What is their role at their company? What are their Goals? How are they successful?  What is their state of mind? What tasks are associated? HOW CAN OUR PRODUCT MAKE THEIR LIVES BETTER?  We came up with six. Over time, we've focused on one core persona.   Her name is Stella.

Stella's picture is everywhere in this room.  So is her story.   For this first release, FOCUS is the name of the game.  We have identified one "brass-tack" goal -- if Stella achieves this goal, she is going to be wildly successful.   That goal is written in sharpie on a very unassuming lime green super-sticky post it note that is stuck to the story wall.

There are also twelve pages of printed out narrative that describe Stella using our new product to meet her goal.   We call that the User Context Scenario or "connective tissue" story we are looking for.   This is a narrative description of a person using our solution to successfully reach a goal.  Our "start-up to value" scenario breaks down into six stacks of features and functions that make up an end-to-end success story.  We did not plan for six stacks -- it just worked out that way.  As we wrote, we discovered things we needed, and found that things we thought we did, didn't need to be included.

Next, we pulled user stories out of the context scenario.  One hundred and two.  We prioritized them.  We put up a blue tape line.  We walked around and moved those stories above and below that blue line until we all felt good about the Rel. 1 stories above the line.

Stella's QuestionWhen I am working on a product design where we are providing the user with analytics,  I always find it helpful to figure out what questions our user is going to have when they see the data.   To get to this, I took a bunch of raw data output from our algorithm -- real alpha customer's data -- to them, and put it in front of them to see what happened.   Naturally they asked a bunch of questions.  One of those common questions became a central focus for some click-through design

So we put Stella's question on the wall -- and wire framed a scenario that took her through a process of answering that question using the features and functions we had identified.  Naturally, this spawned more stories -- and refined detail for our existing stories.  Focusing a product click-through on a particular goal (in this case answering a user question about her data) is helpful for contextualizing all the features and functions into a flow that makes sense.

This question has become our test case as we engage in UX sessions with our customers. I'll write more about those next time.

If you are interested in participating in those, please contact us. We'd love to get your input!