Connect / Research / Design / Review / Ship
I am an end-to-end interaction designer that is driven through both the design sprint and agile design processes.
I pride myself on my ability to communicate and articulate ideas through design and visual communication, most importantly through trust and relationship building. Being able to listen, empathize, persuade, and communicate clearly are all part of my designer toolkit.
I put an emphasis on research and knowing as much as I can when starting a new project. In order to best meet the needs of the user and the goals of the business it is important for me to know the truth or why behind the project. My process is broken down simply: Connect & Define, Discover, Design, Develop, Ship. My process is agile and adaptive. This allows me to learn the positives and negatives of a direction early on and helps the project to move forward. You can learn more about my work, here.
From the onset of a project, it is important to set a baseline to define the starting point and what the end-goal is. The underlying truth acts as a north star to guide all decision making ensuring that the project will stay on track to meet its users and business goals.
The scope of a project distinguishes features we need from features we want, and helps create a launch feature list within a defined project timeline. A project strategy and roadmap will express the scope of the project, potential worries, and what is possible from a technical and cost standpoint.
Once the project scope is defined, the next step is to create a map of all the use cases and required features to meet those use cases. These requirements will also include constraints.
Anything designed is created for users, internal or customer facing. In order to create a product that meets a users needs, you must understand the user. User personas include demographics, motivations, goals, frustrations, bio, personality, abilities, and brand tendencies.
Creating a user thought process will help understand what user’s are thinking and the decisions they are making while navigating the flow of the product. This will help distinguish use cases between high and low priorities.
By organizing use cases based on priority, the best version of the product will launch immediately meeting user’s needs and expectations. Shipping the essential features first will save lower priority items for future updates. This simplifies the product, and empathies to the user and stakeholder needs.
Wireframes visualize the narrative of a user journey through a product. Wireframes are created to show the users flow through the product and decisions and choices they will encounter. Wireframes are created at low fidelity, so as to focus on high level details such as navigation and structure not aesthetics.
Hi-Fi mocks are used to focus on aesthetic details like images, fonts, colors, spacing, and other details that were not included in the wireframes. The final user interface aesthetic style is determined at this stage of the process.
Mocks do not offer a complete narrative of the users journey. Prototypes are created from the mocks and offer a “real world” environment to demonstrate user transitions from one state to another as they navigate throughout the flow of the product. Prototypes also help with user testing and feedback.
Hi-Fi Mocks must be translated to a spec in which engineers are able to create the final product. Depending on the project, specs and redlines can be delivered as a fully detailed doc or using spec collaboration software like Zeplin.
It’s not enough to pass designs on to engineering with spec documentation. Design, engineering, and marketing must all be invested in the project from out of the gate. Together they must form a partnership with frequent check-ins and feedback to ensure the product is continuing in the right direction while also delivering on the high quality bar the brand promises.
It is important to start testing early. In some cases there may be an internal beta that can be used to gather feedback from internal partners who are not familiar with the project or who have not yet contributed. It is important to get feedback from outside sources rather than your core group who is already familiar.
To ensure the product continues to enhance the user’s experience through future updates, user testing is essential. Collection of quantitative and qualitative data happens during this stage of the process.
At this point, the product has been launched and is in the hands of end-users. They will have feedback, all you have to do is ask. The feedback you receive directly from users is extremely valuable, it is their first hand account of their thoughts, emotions, both good and bad towards your product. User feedback can be collected within the product or after a set time of using the product via surveys, interviews, reviews, etc.
Once the product has launched, you must follow up and collected feedback. Not making improvements based on that feedback and allowing the product to become stagnate is the worst thing you can do as a product owner. It’s never to late to make changes that can improve the overall experience.
All of these stages in this end-to-end design process can and will be repeated as needed to ensure the best possible user experience. Iteration happens most frequently in the design and development stage. It is important to remember that iteration is not a form of failure, it is a pathway to success. You cannot rise, until you fall.
The key to great design is sharing and collaborating as early and as often as you can with as many people as you can. When you open your ideas to people not only with design backgrounds you gain perspective in ways of thinking that you are not accustomed. This helps you to be better prepared for making design decisions for users.
I believe in trusting your instinct into design directions, but it is essential to have final design decisions guided by research, data, or insights. Data driven design decisions help designers address issues they wouldn’t have thought of, while assumption based design addresses only problems the designer is familiar with, leading to underperforming projects.