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DESIGNING EXPERIENCES FOR USERS

STRIVING TO ENGAGE

AND EMPOWER

Scroll down to read about My UX Design Process, or jump to another page to see some of my work.

MY UX DESIGN PROCESS

LISTEN

Frankly, this should be the first step for anyone, in any job, any industry, anywhere.

For me, this is born out of two core beliefs:

  1. I need to hear from others first in order to best understand a situation.

  2. My initial assumptions may very well be wrong, and the onus is on me to correct them.

 

 

I take action on this step through several methods:

  • hearing from the stakeholders about their goals,

 

  • hearing from current team members about their processes and challenges, and

  • reviewing pre-existing products, documentation, insights, all of it – taking in any information that might shed light on what we’re working towards.

Woman standing in front of cherry blossoms in full bloom
Hot air balloon hovering over a lake, its reflection in full view

LEARN

Isn't learning the best? Love it. This may sound lame, but I really do relish the chance to pick up new life lessons.

All that intake of information from the first step should lead to some valuable observations and insights. After distilling the core elements, I start to understand what lays ahead of me – both the opportunities and the challenges.

STRATEGIZE

“If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.”

   - Attributed to many, most notably “Anonymous”

Not every project requires a cookie-cutter plan. Not every problem is solved by an app. Not every team needs Basecamp or Slack to do their best work.

The insights gleaned from the previous steps reveal multiple unique aspects of this project and this group of people, and from that, we can figure out the best way forward to meet our goals.

  • What forms of research are most valuable?

 

  • What project management and ideation tools will be most effective?

  • What timeline best suits the delivery and roll-out?

 

To name a few...

P.S. The Asanas, the Jiras, the Mondays, the Wrikes, the Basecamps. They’re great, sure. But, I also love to turn away from my computer screen as much as possible and just use my notebook.

Red bullet journal and pen, with the text "hell yeah, bullet journals!" inscribed on the cover of the journal
Quinta da Regaleira, Portugal - view from bottom of a spiral staircase, looking up to bright sky

MORE LISTENING

& LEARNING

Seriously, you just can’t go wrong here.

There’s always more information to take in, and now that we have a clearer idea of our own path forward, we can use some tried and true tactics to help shine more light along the way:

  • Hearing from the users about what they want (and what they don’t want)

  • Reconnaissance into similar products out there in the world

  • User tests on current or planned features, find out what works well and what could be improved

PERSONAS + MAPS

= UNDERSTANDING

This is one of my favorite parts of the process, possibly because it hearkens back to my theatre training and creating character studies to better grasp who someone is and why they do what they do.

Taking what we now know of our users, we craft personas that embody a reasonable range of views and desires. The personas stay with us throughout the rest of the design process, constantly reminding us that this whole project is ultimately for them.

Another take on writing a script, the various mapping techniques give us an insider’s view to what works and what doesn’t for our personas. We imagine their successes, their setbacks, their steps in the world and how we can make it better.

Mannequin torso splattered in various bright colors of paint
Shea Elmore in a steampunk top hat, goggles and tuxedo shirt

Photo by Martin Hols

SCIENTIFIC METHOD

As a kid I dreamed of being an astronaut (still do), and then a marine biologist, but math is really hard, and sharks. Anyway, the scientific method was something I never thought I’d be able to employ, and then I found UX Design.

After the previous Question and Research phases, it’s time to get bold and form a Hypothesis. “If we design X, users will get Y.” It’s less important how right or wrong we are with our hypothesis (although, let’s not set the bar too low) than it is to start trying things out and getting feedback. And by now we should have sufficient information to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.

The Experiment phase is by many considered the most fun part of the whole process, and I’m no outlier here. It’s a blast. Taking all of our work so far and ideating on potential solutions, starting to put the pieces together, mixing one element with another and hopefully not causing an explosion (unless an explosion is what you want). Let’s get our hands dirty and see what innovations we can think up.

We won’t spend too much time crafting concepts and prototypes before we start to Test them out and Analyze the results. Even if we find out that we’re making smart choices, no criticism is too small to at least give it consideration and potentially improve your product even further. And if we realize we’re way off with our attempts, then let’s go back to the drawing board and try again.

LET'S DO THIS

This is a big moment.

We’ve spent a lot of time asking questions, finding out new information, trying out ideas, discovering what works and what doesn’t. While we won’t truly know how successful a product is until it’s out there in the real world, we should feel confident with our results so far to push forward and make this thing real.

But instead of simply throwing caution to the wind and hoping for the best, let’s continue our methodical process of build, test, build, test, build, test... We want this to be the best it can be, and even after we go live, we can still pursue that vision of delivering something that will have a positive impact on those affected by your work.

Let’s do this.

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WHERE TO NEXT?