For the last several months I have been conducting user studies in order to develop accurate personas for Ad Agencies that buy and produce online media.

Many of the agencies that I visit are "traditional" (Agencies that were not born digital) agenies.  In this setting and they often ask me what I do.  For years I was called an Interactive Creative Director, Then I was an Information Architect, today I am called an Universal Experience Planner.

Now you ask me, What the Heck is a Universal Experience Planner (XP).

The Experience Planner creates branded, interactive user experiences such as websites, games, mobile sites, digital media and applications for clients. The XP helps define and lead the strategic and creative vision; owns the information architecture, navigation, interaction and user experience; researches and defines user needs, business goals and requirements; and coordinates with the art director, technical director and account manger to inform visual design and facilitate build.

On a day to day basis I:

  • Takes ownership of the XP component of all assigned projects or brands.
  • Understands brands, and how to bring them to life online.
  • Serves as primary point of contact with internal team members and the client for all XP issues.
  • Provides expert usability and campaign wide interaction design recommendations to the project team.

An XPlanner Primary Tasks + Deliverables

  • Produces deliverables at a level of fidelity and detail appropriate for clients and internal team members.
  • Plans, conducts and analyzes primary and secondary research (heuristic evaluations, competitive analysis, one-on-one interviews, online surveys, stakeholder interviews, etc.).
  • Plans and conducts internal team and client work sessions (brainstorms,requirements workshops, etc.).
  • Defines, prioritizes and drives consensus on project requirements, including all features, functions and content.
  • Develops process models, user personas and scenarios.
  • Creates information architecture deliverables, including site maps, wireframes, interaction models and page specifications that describe navigation, content, and functionality.
  • Assists technical director with functional specifications.
  • Leads usability testing planning, facilitation and analysis.

As I wrap up my 12th Agency interview, I note that large agencies really need to study their organization and make sure that XPlanner is a key player within all of their interactive endevours.  I will not sit here and name the Large agency players that I have interviewed in the last months that do not have this player on their team and rely on a traditional creative team model of the art + copy = advertising.  In the legit interactive world the best brands are built in a team model that looks like this equation.

Strategy + XPlanner + Design + Copy +Technology = Fab Consumer Experience.

ON: What is an XPlanner via @jpenabickley