Its important to layout a design thinking strategy prior to approaching any design project and for user experience projects, I will use a framework like the Nielsen Norman Group Design Thinking 101 Methodology of Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, Implement and/or iterate. Other frameworks I’ve worked to are the Stanford d.school and the Double Diamond from IDEO.
In this phase I conduct user research in order to identify the values and problems my audience are having. This would include desk research and competitor analysis, but more importantly primary behavioural and attitudinal research such as user interviews, surveys and task observations to ensure I’m getting a true picture of the user’s needs. Data is collated and interpreted using best practice for quantitative and qualitative analysis.
Next I define the problem using this data collected and in the wider context of the stakeholder and marketplace. Tools at this stage include developing user personas, journey maps, empathy maps, ‘To Be’ scenarios and storyboards. Once I’ve obtained this clearer idea of who the users are, I create a final How Might We and Jobs To Be Done statements which helps keep the focus during design and ideation.
Now that I’ve got a clearer picture of my user, their needs and have ideated how we might solve for them, I move on to creating quick, hand sketched wireframes which helps me iterate rapidly through ideas. The key in this phase is to develop as many ideas as possible and really explore how well we might solve for the user. I’ll show these sketches to other team members in order to dig down further and see how they could be developed and grow.
Once I’ve chosen a few routes that I believe will work, I’ll mock up low-fi digital wireframes using software like Sketch or Figma. At this stage I will also begin to research design strategies and resources to have them ready. The low fidelity wireframes are tested these with users (where available), iterated upon as many times as possible and then high fidelity prototypes are created from the from the results, utilising design frameworks available.
Prototypes are usually build around up to five key tasks I’d like a user to preform, and once built, user testing sessions are conducted either in person or remotely and followed up with surveys, interviews and/or focus groups depending on resources. The testing is approached by identifying key outcomes such as usability or satisfaction, analysed and then reviewed with the team and clients.
06 Implement and iteration
At this stage, depending on the project and environment (agile, waterfall etc.), hand off is given for development and/or iterations occur where the prototype needs improving. I go back through every stage of the process, locate where needs are not being addressed and iterate, always keeping the user in mind and testing at every stage possible.