There is a common misconception that user experience design is confined to sketching interfaces. However, UX design is a much broader process that encapsulates strategizing, user research, and understanding how a service can fit into the users’ life in a meaningful way. Here is a little insight into the process I typically use.
As you read through this, I know some of you may think “yikes, this is a lot of process.” You’re absolutely right, this is A LOT of process. I’ve worked on very few projects where I’ve had the chance to follow every step in the process. The key to planning a UX project is to balance the right amount of user input with the constraints of a project. No time for conducting ethnographies? That’s okay! Let’s spend a couple of hours doing some desk research. It’s all about finding the right combination of tools to use for the task at hand.
The first thing I do is understand the problem and the user. What is the business goal we are trying to achieve? What problems are we trying to solve? Who are the users we are trying to solve it for? What is their current experience? I also conduct research on products that are already out there. What are our competitors doing? What problems are they trying to solve?
As I think through the problem I list out all my research questions and hypotheses. I conduct research activities based on the questions I'm trying to answer. Here are a few methods I typically use.
This is a collaborative method that I use to engage with my team and build common understanding. It helps get everyone on the same page and makes it much easier to make decisions about the project moving forward.
I conduct passive and active observations to expose the needs, pain points, frustrations, behavior patterns, and the physical environment of our users.
Interviews are useful to gain insight on their general attitudes, what their needs are, and what challenges they face. I like to use the “critical incident” method. This method involves asking the user to recall specific instances when they faced a difficulty or when something worked particularly well. This allows for more vivid detail in the user’s mind and prevents the user from describing generalized workflows that deviate from reality.
My team conducts a “brain dump” session where we talk through all our observations and encounters while it’s still fresh in our heads. We categorize and identify various trends. This helps us digest all the data and is a good point of reference when designing. When necessary, I also transcribe all my audio recordings and code my data for future reference.
As we talk through different themes and trends, we use bright colored stickies for our design ideas. We like to encourage everyone to put their ideas up, no matter how crazy they are!
Once I am satisfied with my design ideas, I validate them internally by performing guerrilla usability tests on my co-workers. I then take them out to the field and test them on our users.
I take what I learn from our users and do several more rounds of prototyping and testing.
I then work with the developers to implement the design ideas. My technical background allows me to communicate my requirements with the engineering team. When I want to nail a design idea, I like going into the code myself.
I have a strong technical background and a passion for human-centered design. I am a fast-learner, task oriented, and have strong communication skills. I also enjoy the challenge of working in fast-paced environment.