Wether I am developing a website, an application or a feature of an application, the core structure of the process is the same. It begins by researching the problem space, framing the problems to be solved, and defining goals. Like all phases of an initiative, learning expands or contracts to fit the challange and time available.
Successful experience design initiatives are often the product of equal parts self accessment and procedural knowledge. Deciding to do more, less or none of one part of the process or annother are decisions weighted by what I am capable and efficent at doing, where I am starting from, the nature, time, budgitary constraints and complexity of the project.
Research the problem, the audience, and the current solutions strengths, weaknesses, and success metrics.
I begin initiatives by learning about the company, the brand, and the competitive advantage a UX initiative can support. Answers to these questions provide the context for investigating the wants and needs of the users of their product or service.
#1 Define the brand experience
Most people can’t differentiate how they feel about a brand from how they feel about the experiences they have with that brand, so in many situations, UX becomes the brand differentiator. It can be part of, or all of, the reason a customer chooses to engage with a company or its products.
- Evaluate the visual elements of brand relative to the core brand message
- Define the brands behavior relative to the core brand message
- Define the brands tone relative to the core brand message
#2 Align UX strategy with business goals
While experience design has the primary objective of producing understandable and usable experiences, how this is accomplished should be aligned with the companies business model. Determine if the company is competing on price, customer loyalty or something else.
Model and develop a shared vision by understanding what the user is doing, feeling, and thinking. Use this shared vision to define target audiences.
To empathize with users, I look for the constraints of their context and how they define their needs. I also want to know about them, their life goals, and how the particular goals of the interaction align with them.
• What’s the real problem we’re trying to solve?
• Who is our current target audience and ideal audience?
• Are there multiple audience segments?
• What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current solution?
• How does leadership feel about the problem at hand, and how do they make decisions?
• What are our other constraints, such as timeline and budget?
• How will success be measured?
Define and develop initial solutions through problem statements and summarization.
To make the documentation from engagements with users manageable and useful, I employ methods of summarizing. These methods narrow many observations down into a shortlist useful for defining a problem statement that is: human-centered, broad enough for creative freedom, and still narrow enough to make it manageable.
• What’s the problem or pain point the user is experiencing?
• What products and solutions do they currently use to solve that problem or pain point?
• What are the shortcomings of their current products and solutions?
• How will ours be better?
The problem statement
Frame the problem statement according to specific users, their needs, and the insights gained in the understanding phase. The problem statement should be about the people the team is trying to help, rather than focussing on technology, monetary returns or product specifications.
Broad enough for creative freedom
The problem statement should not focus too narrowly on a specific method regarding the implementation of the solution and technical requirements.
Narrow enough to make it manageable.
Improve the human condition, is too broad and will likely cause team members to easily feel daunted. Problem statements should have sufficient constraints to make them more concrete.
Design potential solutions for testing and iterating prior to development of higher fidelity interfaces and prototypes.
Translating summarized findings into early wireframes, taxonomies, organizational schemes, information hierarchies, and interface patterns are the largest gap to clear in the user centered design process. To keep the user at the center of design decisions I incorporate cognitive principles of interaction and heuristics.
• Usability testing findings VS interaction principals tables
• Empathy mapping findings VS interaction principals tables
• Heuristics evaluation findings VS interaction principals tables
• Card sorting
• User decision mapping
• Content assessment
• Site mapping
• Paper prototyping
• Tree testing (treejack)
Render interactions of low-fi prototypes at higher fidelity incorporating interactivity and motion design
The interactive display of information adds complexity to design decisions. At this stage of the process, principles of interaction again become fundamental when making decisions about error prevention and the constraint of options users can take.
• Design systems
• Brand guidelines
• Accessibility evaluations
• Material Design
• Form Fields
• Dropdown menus
Prototype testing of proposed solutions
In person and or remote testing of interactive solutions produce quantitative and qualitative date for iteration and handoff of a final solution.
• Remote usability testing with online platforms
• In person interviews
• In person usability testing and multimedia documentation
• Task analysis
• A - B testing