I went to design school long before UX was coined. But that doesn’t mean user experience wasn’t a thing.
Good designers have always sought out information about their audience and the medium. UX Design is this unique combination of sensory elements and behavior on a constantly changing canvas. It’s fascinating.
I also went to business school and studied marketing. The reason I’m drawn to UX Design is the simple way it demonstrates value to non-creatives. It validates our mental equity in every project. Each project is different but the core elements always tend to surface.
- Audience: Who are our users?
- Non-Judgemental Understanding: What challenges do we face? What pain points do we know about?
- Conduct Interviews: Connect with strategic leadership, cross-functional team members, and end users. What assumptions need to be considered?
- Review Qualitative Data: Do analytics tell a story?
- Brand Alignment: How does the problem impact our brand?
Interviews will help us create assumptions that we can challenge. What do we know about our product/service? What do we believe others think about our product/service?
We can learn a lot about our product/service by talking to our own people. I like to engage several teams: leadership, development, support, sales and marketing. They know the user. They know what sells. They know what makes people upset. I will go out of my way to build strong relationships in each of these departments.
Collaboration with DevOps/SiteOps teams is important. We need to know limitations of code and infrastructure. I want to know how to deliver assets and make sure they understand what we are doing and why we are doing it. From my experience, it’s helpful to remain involved throughout the development process to provide support for software engineers.
The marketer in me likes a good SWOT analysis. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). It’s a simple chart that helps us be cognizant of our competition.
- User Personas – Personas usually come from interviews but they don’t have to. We can easily identify specific demographics and create user types based on general assumptions.
- Journey Maps – I don’t always create a journey map but I do find them useful if we are trying to identify the mood of the user during a specific process. I prefer to create specific user flows instead.
- Brainstorming / Exploration – The best part. By this time we know the problems, we know the goals and we know the users. This phase is where we let designers do their thing. The more creative the better.
- Sitemap – A sitemap will display every single page/screen we need to address. We are starting to add structure to the project.
- User Flow Chart – From the perspective of each user, I create flows that address each step of a process. Boarding, registration, purchasing etc.
- Branding Guide – I use Adobe’s full creative suite as my design system. I make sure libraries are established so we can use them in Photoshop, Illustrator and XD. In XD, I will create a style guide to set the standards for typography, color, and elements.
- Wireframing – Using the sitemap, I begin to layout all the elements of each page. I typically do not sketch out screens. I move faster using XD and can easily convert to a high-fidelity prototype.
- High-fidelity, Interactive Prototypes – I almost always present a perfectly designed prototype. One thing I have learned throughout the years is that “perception is reality.” Or maybe the designer in me likes to hold the work close to my vest? I also like to make each prototype interactive. It’s a great way to simulate the cadence of the project. Adding motion in just the right spot can elevate the design. Not to mention, XD is great for sharing a prototype and collecting feedback. The best part is exporting assets for developers.
- User Testing – Ideally, we want real end users to test drive the system. Depending on time and budget, this might not always be possible. Thankfully, I have friends in marketing, sales and support to tap.
- Usability Report – I like to create infographic-esque reports. They quickly provide key information, results and recommendations. I can collect feedback and package up the findings to present to leadership.
Delightful user experiences require a constant state of creating and challenging assumptions. It requires empathy, patience, and the ability to connect with everyone.