Discover

In this phase we find out our business goals and who our users are.

Client & Industry Research

Understanding the business and technical context surrounding the product is important. Stakeholders are interviewed to learn the vision of the product, it’s constraints, and who the product’s main audience are and should be. (Kickoff Meeting, Biz Strategy, Content Audit, Heuristic Review, etc.)

Market Research

Landscape analysis to see how others solve similar problems, what competitors are doing well and poorly. Discovery of how is the product/company viewed by it’s current users. If the product already exists; quantitative analysis of clicks, page views, performances is useful. (Competitive Analysis, User Feedback, Data Analysis, etc.)

Personas

Empathizing is key in understanding the user. Learning the psychology of the user, their: behaviors, attitudes, goals, and fears leads to giving the user what they want. Based on interviews and research, personas are created to represent target user segments. This helps to develop and prioritize the feature set and “the feel” of the product. (User Personas)

Explore

We learn our user's needs and refine our product's goals and brainstorm features.

User Stories

User Stories takes Personas to the next level. They help to facilitate discussions as to what is important to each user so that we can find out what the user needs.

User Journeys/Scenarios

Empathy for the user is brought to the forefront by allowing us to walk in the user’s footsteps. This leads to uncovering pain points, creating new features, and simplifying old features.

Ecosystem Map

This helps to visualize how a business’s properties all work together. It leads into developing new features as well as cutting out off-brand or non-synergistic strategies.

User Flow

How does a user get from point A to point B (or Z)? This details the steps a user takes through a product. It helps uncover possible pain points where a user may stumble as well as visualizes screens and interactions for the wireframing stage.

Red Routes

Analytical and qualitative data are used to identify which tasks and features are used most frequently. This helps drive the information architecture and feature prioritization and to cut out unnecessary or confusing features.

Brainstorm Features

Through the steps previously taken we’ve uncovered a range of possible new features, solidified old ones, and discovered new ways of expanding (or consolidating) our product. During this step we take a step back and bring all the findings together. This is where we take the insights we’ve found and start pulling out actual actionable ideas through the brainstorming method. Research is over, we now have our building blocks.

Plan

We prioritize the product's features and strategize a holistic view for the product.

Feature Set Matrix

We list our features out and prioritize them. We take into account the value to the user and the complexity of creating (budget). We can start thinking about creating phases to our project here.

Taxonomies

For certain products we may have to classify, categorize, and organize information. This step groups these items together and is the building blocks to creating an information architecture.

Information Architecture

Prioritizing information groups and structuring it helps us to build our site map.

Copy Strategy

Often overlooked is the tone of voice in our products. Each product is different and resonates differently with users. We strategize how we’re heard through our writing and speech. This is step also works best when the writer is a part of the copy strategy discussion.

Visual Strategy

Empathizing with the user also means knowing what the user likes to look at. Mood boards, color theory, and design aesthetic direction helps our creative director hone in on their design. This is a step that also works best when the visual creative is a part of the visual strategy discussion.

Continuity Strategy

Consistent messaging, visuals, and interactions through the website, app, print material, branding, video, social, etc. should all reflect the same viewpoint of the product. This carries through to all aspects of the product and it’s ecosystem.

Create

We make our plans and findings concrete with tangible designs.

Sketches

Low-fi sketches are great for discussing navigation and content on the fly. This is best done in a group setting with a whiteboard or some paper. Sketch, discuss, vote.

Wireframes

Adding detail and structure to our ideas. We’re able to see this product take shape. Wireframes are also great for the developers in helping them to get a head start by putting together the back-end framework of our product.

Mockups

This is where we add a little more flavor to our wireframes. For some, wireframes can be like speaking in another language. I’ve found that adding a little layer of detail helps stakeholders (and user testers) see the big picture more easily. Mockups are also very useful during prototyping and user testing.

Test

Prototype and test our designs with users.

Prototype

Prototypes can be from sketches, wireframes, or mockups. They give valuable insight through user testing and are also beneficial for the designer by creating an interactive mockup which can be engaged with prior to developing high fidelity wireframes or mockups (this saves time).

Interaction Animations

Interaction design animations are extremely useful to developers if there’s a particular piece of interactivity which is a little more unique and can’t be accomplished by usual prototyping applications.

User Testing

Get the designs in the hands of users! This is truly the only way we can see if our design works. People are amazing, and you will constantly be surprised when a design fails that you thought would work, or when you think a design may be too complicated and a user picks it up in a flash. It’s an exciting and illuminating step in the process.

Interviews & Focus Groups

Talking with the users is always insightful. There is no such thing as a bad insight, but also don’t forget to remember who your core user base is.

Listen

Observe what users are saying and compile the test results and prioritize optimizations.

Iterate

We refine our product based on findings from how our real users are interacting with our product. This is done by updating sketches/wireframes/mockups/prototypes/or for an alpha or beta release. A new round of testing our product to get us closer to making all our users happy. This is the core of user experience, it is an iterative process which is constantly evolving, because people are always learning, changing, and growing as new technologies are introduced to the world.

Note: This process is typically modified on a case by case basis mainly due to all products being unique, as well as the introduction of UX into the product design process is not always at the same starting point.