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Digital Product Strategy, Gamification, and the Evolution of UX Johnny Holland – It’s all about interaction » Blog Archive

I’ve been watching two trends recently in the realm of digital product development. First is the incorporation of gaming concepts into products that seemingly have nothing to do with gaming. Second, the importance of designing products that are not only easy to use but a pleasure to use.

To be sure, these trends aren’t new. My point is not to shed yet more light on what we already know. Rather, the potential impact of these trends as they go mainstream is significant for UX designers– our skills are becoming strategic rather than tactical.

Let me explain. A wireframe is a tactical output that (hopefully) partially fulfills a strategic direction for a system. But working with a product manager to figure out how to incorporate gaming concepts into a product moves us, the UX designers, in a strategic direction. This changes the opportunities in front of us as designers. The term I use to encapsulate these opportunities is “digital product strategy.”

What is digital product strategy?

Product strategy binds business strategy to product management. Marty Cagan put it nicely in a April 2009 blog post: “Think of it this way. The business strategy and business portfolio planning provides a budget and a set of business metrics. The product organization then lives within that budget to pursue as aggressively as possible the best ways to hit those business metrics.”

Product strategy (let alone digital product strategy) is a relatively unused term – no Wikipedia article exists as of yet, and it ranks fairly low as a competitive keyword (at least as I write this). As such, there’s not a lot of consensus as to what it encompasses. So, I’ll provide my thoughts with an emphasis on products that are digital by design – they make heavy use of software as part of their interaction model or delivery mechanism.

To me, a good digital product strategy brings together seven areas of expertise:

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