The general UX design approach is a strategy based on user feedback and rapidly testing designs in small cycles. I must note that the design process differs depending on the project: whether we are building something new or improving upon an existing product. Testing a minimum viable product (MVP) with the right users, as quick as possible, is the best way to comb out inefficiencies and usability issues.
Research & Analysis
Project Planning | Business Goals
It all starts with planning. Assess the overall vision of the project: what are the business goals and why? How will it help the business and the users? What are the main milestones for the project? Then the team makes a project plan where we delegate responsibilities, plan a communication protocol, and create a system for sharing deliverables and documents. This is also where we usually conduct competitive analysis to see what other similar solutions people use and why.
Finding the right users for interviews and usability testing usually starts with a screener survey sent via email. It’s a great way to find people who use the current product or similar products. The survey also serves as an introduction to see which users would like to be interviewed and participate in testing any prototypes.
Allow them to elaborate about their experience using this or similar products. It is also recommended to do a contextual inquiry, which involves observing them actually using the product in a real-life scenario, or one as authentic as possible. The questions should inquire about why and how they have used the product and how that went for them.
After we have conducted and recorded 5-10 user interviews, we review them to note the various goals, motivations, behaviors, frustrations, and trends within the user pool. This can be done in a variety of ways. We are fond of affinity mapping, which involves writing user quotes from interviews onto sticky notes and organizing them based on the theme of the quotes. Affinity mapping is a collaborative activity with the goal of making sense of user interview data and reducing our individual biases.
Discovery & Empathy
The user interviews and inquiries reveal insights, behaviors, goals, and frustrations. Put yourself in the shoes of users in order to understand what environmental and system factors get in the way of usability.
This is a way to really empathize with users and who they are, what their goals are, and what external factors may affect their use of a product
Based on the interview data, we can visualize the user in their broader life context in order to understand the bigger picture.
Customer Journey Map
This is also a research-based flow providing information on what brings users to this particular product, as well as how they use it.
In order to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that solves the problem revealed in the research,
Planning and Communicating
Planning and communicating design and functionality decisions with developers and other stakeholders is essential to make a cohesive product. The best way to create usable products is to put them in front of users as quickly and often as possible. When creating a product it is necessary to have an MVP that intends to solve the problem revealed in the research.
Feature prioritization is necessary in creating the MVP so that it doesn’t creep out of the scope of the immediate problem and become too cumbersome to rapidly test. Maybe it could use some cool features, but that can be later on once the foundational functionality and overall structure proves sound.
Sketching and Ideation
One of the most creative steps in the design process. This is where ideas can get the most wild and exciting. Once we have put ourselves on all sides of the problem space and created a vision on how to solve it, we can use that mindset to collaborate and rapidly come up with design ideas. Once we’ve ideated, we come together to make sense of them and create a prototype of the MVP.
Prototype & Test
Usability Testing Plan
To find users, you can send out another survey or else find willing users you’ve already interviewed. 5-10 participants is recommended. Make scenarios and goals for participants based on the user research. Usability testing is also very collaborative. It is recommended to have 3 or 4 researchers running the test: a mediator walk each participant through the test, an observant note-taker, a moderator to record the test, and someone acting as the ‘computer’ if it is a non-digital prototype
During The Test
Ensure participants feel at ease by informing them that this is a test of the prototype, not of them. Give participants specific scenarios and goals to accomplish with the product.
f there’s a time-crunch, conduct some guerilla usability.
After The Test
Collect and analyze the notes from the tests. Listen to the recordings and take notes during, especially of quotes from participants. It is recommended to create spreadsheets, or graphics, that map the results of the test so that we can improve the prototype.
Validate & Reflect
Like with user interviews, the team can now assess the issues that came up in testing and decide how to solve them. Another round of testing with mid- or high-fidelity prototypes is a good idea, if there’s time.
Reflect as a team on the overall project and how it went. If there were any mistakes, we can always learn from them for next time.