Strategy: What are we trying to solve and how will we solve it?
In this phase of my process I aim to find out as much as I can about the problem with the aim of gathering as much data and information as possible. These key areas help me to retrieve the information I need in order to create value for both business goals and user needs.
Stakeholder Interviews — Identifying who's in charge and the views they have surrounding the problem. This helps to outline a perimeter around key things to consider.
Gathering Requirements — Identifying business goals and objectives. Figuring out the constraints and limitations.
Competitor Analysis — Identifying who competitors are, what are they doing and how can we do thing differently to provide additional value.
Data & Analytics — Identifying any current market or personal data captured that may need to be considered.
User Research — Identifying who our user is and what they require in order to align with their requirements to provide value.
Outlining these areas helps us to build scope. This aids in addressing potential constraints and limitations, defining responsibilities and expectations as well thinking about how these will add value to both the user and the business.
User Personas: The fundamental recipe for user-centered design
In order to find out who we are solving problems for, I find it extremely helpful to put together user personas. These help to build a personality for who our users are and their behaviors.
I see these as a valuable piece to the puzzle when thinking about user-centered design, and without them feel as if you are shooting in the dark.
Identifying user cases and user journeys
Having a clear sense of the user cases is great as it helps to put you in their shoes. It opens your eyes to certain problems that they may face and enables you to provide solutions to tackle them.
My approach is to explore as many options as possible to ensure that we are able to create the best user experience. The objective here is to consider exactly how the user thinks and feels.
White boarding scenarios and flows really help me to visualize exactly where things maybe going wrong. It also provides me with an idea for how many steps certain actions may take.
Wireframing: The blueprints to success
Wireframes are my holy grail, they are a pivotal piece in my process and help to provide an excellent way to project detail for how certain components and screens will look and function without being overshadowed by design elements.
Depending on the constrains of the project, time and/or team, these will be adjusted accordingly. Sometimes it's not practical to have such high fidelity versions and instead white boarding or sketching are my suitable alternatives.
The main aim is to at least have something to work from and to get clarification on.
Feedback, prototyping and user testing
As design is such an iterative process I like to get something in the hands of the users as quickly as possible. Feedback is king. I feel that the more information and data that I'm able to collect, the better I am at providing a solution to the problem.
I see this is such an important piece of the puzzle in knowing if you are heading in the right direction or if you need to rethink another solution.
The two approaches I like to take with prototyping, depending on the constraints of the project are:
Both avenues are great and produce similar results, and are merely tools in my tool box. Depending on the situation I would choose the appropriate action.
Crafting the visual style and aligning design principles
I like to ensure that with every design decision made there is a good and valid reason behind it.
By setting design principles it allows me to add an extra layer of validation to my design thinking and forces me to think about all potential points of view, whilst creating a design that has meaning and purpose.
My love for designing systems — Design systems and patterns for that matter enable me to keep a consistent visual style throughout the product. It's extremely valuable when working with teams as it helps to get everyone involved on the same page. You can almost think of it as a rule book for the design portion of the project.
When handing over or sharing my work with engineering teams, I like to ensure that the appropriate documentation is available to them so that they are able to understand why certain design decisions were made. I feel this helps to create a really good bond between the two teams and results in a better final outcome for the product.
Feedback and Iteration
In my eyes a great product is never finished. Design in its entirety is an iterative process that requires collaboration and exploration in order to reach a decision.
I encourage constant feedback throughout my process as it really helps to identify the different perspectives and impressions that I myself may not have thought of.
I enjoy collaborating with others and feel that it's such an important part of the design process.