What is the best way to create a UX roadmap?

First off, let’s discuss the term “UX Roadmap.” I’ve heard it used in a couple of different ways. Here’s one definition, from UX Game Changers:

The UX roadmap defines the stages of the user delivery. And while demands can change deliverables, the roadmap provides guidance and helps set priorities. The term “roadmap” is defined as being a course of action or a plan for future actions.  Roadmaps provide the underpinnings of what should eventually turn into efficiencies and revenue.

Here’s my take on it:

A UX roadmap details where your users are, where they want/desire to be, and when you will provide offerings that will take them where they want to go. It is a timeline of activities and offerings that is driven by user needs and aligned (and, optimally, influencing) product release schedules.

An example: You sell a widget that allows people to instantly see their blood sugar level. This widget does one thing – the blood sugar check – incredibly well. Your users like it because it is simple and effective. However, they want more – they want to be able to log this sugar over time, and they also want to not have to sync this information with their computers – they want to just have the information “beam” itself to there. And as these users get more exposed to similar technology, they will also want to have multi-function devices that supports more than one function.

They – and the world – are heading towards “multitasking enablers” that support  health monitoring. How do you evolve your product to keep up with that? You flesh out a roadmap based on research, understanding, technology, and society trends.

This is what a lot of product managers do, but their product roadmaps are often “keep up with the Jones” efforts, where they strive for feature parity with competitors. The secrets sauce is the UX roadmap, because it looks not at the competitive landscape but user needs and their mental models. If you don’t do that, don’t understand where people’s “heads” are at and where they are going… Well, it can lead to a failed product line and a dead company.

See question on Quora

Can a product be an experience – or is one a subset of the other?

No, a product is not an experience, it is part of an experience.

As I've written before, the idea that anyone can "design an experience" is incorrect. You design solutions and products that are a part of user's experience, and what you design has to be crafted in a way that both reflects the user's expectations and supports their needs and behavior. You do that be doing the "leg work" by researching the user and learning what works and what doesn't for them. When you try and "design an experience" I think some designers focus on the wrong things – the UI, the features – and therefore lose site of the people who use it.

A product can, however, be part of an ecosystem, which gets much closer to being a more holistic reflection of the user's experience. The best products have an ecosystem that is aligned with user's needs and workflows, and therefore is percieved as having a "better experience." What Apple has done with the iTunes/iPod/Iphone/Mac/iPad infrastructure is an attempt at such an ecosystem, and for many people this interconnected product suite works quite well for them. And it doesn't work at all for others… people are different.

See question on Quora

How would you measure user experience of physical packaging?

The obvious answer to me is in usability testing.

Define a series of tasks that you want to test the packaging for. The obvious task for packaging is…well, opening it. The next obvious task is about the content displayed/printed on the package. What is the product? What are the primary features that the packaging tells you about? Once you have the tasks, you test several sealed packages with participants. You record them as they try and open the package, as well as describe to you what they think of the package's printed content. You run them through the content-specific tasks you have defined. You have them do a standard usability questionaire after the tasks, one that is rewritten to align with the tasks tested. 

You can even do A/B testing of different versions of the packaging if you have the time and capability.

After analyszing the test results and the questionaires, you should have a fairly good idea what works and what doesn't. As the opening of a package is one of the first "experiences" that most customers have with a new product, more companies should be focused on designing the packaging (and evaluating and measuring this) than actually are.

See question on Quora