While the bulk of my UX work is protected under NDAs, they all go through a similar process, as outlined below.
- First, we identify the problem we are trying to solve. This could be as “small” as a poor click-through rate from a landing page to as “large” as tackling a vastly under-performing and ineffective web site.
- Second, we collect relevant data related to the problem, such as site analytics, user research, user testing, and feedback (from staff and customers alike). This is, perhaps, my favorite part of the process, because it enables us “lab rats” to get out from behind our screens and go out into the real world to see how our products function in the hands of users.
- After the data has been reviewed, it’s time to put our heads together to set goals and brainstorm solutions. Different people/teams handle this part in different fashions, but whiteboarding and sketching are common ways of capturing ideas, as are making lists and identifying relationships with tools like Trello.
- Before we can really know how all of the pieces fit together, we need to understand the various audience segments. At this phase of the project, we get inside the head of users within the target audience and try to figure out what they need from this solution, anything that might be challenging for them, and how their goals can be met. Sample deliverables here might be user personas, user storyboards, or user models. This is where I get to use my passion for writing and designing in one task – writing user stories!
- Next, it’s time to map a cohesive solution from all we’ve learned thus far. Essentially, this is when we formalize the relationships between each part. For a website or mobile app, this might look like a sitemap.
- As the sitemap is finalized, the designers can begin to frame the components of the solution’s parts. How do the individual pieces work together to build each page, for example? What parts are repeated/reused? What is the best layout for each piece? For a mobile app, this means we create wireframes of each significant component, in order to work out the functionality and space on the screen.
- Then, it’s time to apply the branding elements to the solution. If we were building a house, this would be where we apply the paint and decorations to make it uniquely yours. High-fidelity mockups are created, in order to give a good idea as to how the final solution will display. It’s important to use these mockups to work out the final kinks, as much as possible, before the remaining work is done to take the solution live.
I’ve created a few sample documents to share. These files — a user persona, storyboard, and sitemap — are pieces of the user experience puzzle, developed from user research and testing, used to tell stories and help develop solutions that best meet both user and organizational goals.
I’ve incorporated user-centered design principals and this UX process into just about every project throughout my career, in some way, shape, or form. I love being a storyteller, and thoroughly enjoy how UX work gives me the opportunity to merge my design and writing passions to creatively solve problems.