I believe that good design is simple, usable, attractive and more importantly, is invisible at times where it’s not needed.
To achieve this, user empathy, a deep understanding of your users, a keen business vision and practical knowledge in usability and aesthetics is required.
My process involves lean UX design practices based on user centric design, focused on my clients’ business goals and the target user needs.
I research, document, prototype, test, iterate, design and deliver.
The first thing I do before starting a project is to study and understand the business and business goals, what the product is trying to achieve. I conduct team workshops and research sessions with internal and external stakeholders.
I interview the stakeholders and ask a lot of right questions to make a robust understanding of the business and come up with a set of clear business goals. I identify and document measurable business goals as well, so that at the end of the project, we know whether we are successful and to what degree.
I find out the competitor products, review the competitors and summarize the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, and identify the advantages and shortcomings of the competition.
Understanding the User
From my research on the business and business goals, I identify the users and the user archetype. It’s easier and intuitive to design for an archetype than a target demographic.
There’s always a disparity between what users say they want and what they really want. Hence, I observe the users in contrast to interviewing them. I create an empathy map based on a few key factors like their reason to use the product, their behaviour, the environment in which they are using the product, their goals, needs and their motivation to use the product.
After gathering the business goals and technological limitations and capabilities, I combine them with the user goals to create a strategy document. This document enables us to have a clear plan of action for moving forward and to keep everybody in the team on the same page.
A user journey map is map defining the actions performed and emotions perceived by the user while using the product from start to finish. Mapping the user’s journey helps us identify the user experience of the product design from the beginning to the end.
This map defines the users’ incentive to using the product and the problems solved by the product for the users. The map outlines the different stages of using the application and the user’s experience, emotions and feelings at these different stages from start to finish.
Scenarios and Story Boards
I create scenarios to define specific areas of functionality and what the system and the user need from each other to function for the scenario to pan out as desired. I define problems and desired results for multiple scenarios of the user interacting with the product. To clearly show the context, I create storyboards with the user as the star of the story.
Flows are how the users navigate through the product. Having the user flow mapped out helps in finding out the ideal path to navigate through the system and achieve the user's needs in the best and fastest possible way. I create high level as well as detailed flows to clearly define best path and to mitigate the edge cases. Complex problems become easier to understand and solutions present themselves.
This is to identify the emotions of the users, their wants and needs, pains and frustrations, obstacles along the process of using the product.
It’s quite common from a business and design perspective to jump into conclusions and start the design process before going through these exercises. Many of the stakeholders and the team members would already have an idea or a product in mind to kick off the process with, and come up with a prototype.
I educate the team about the process, and jumping into conclusions means we are missing an opportunity to create delightful experiences and features for the users to accomplish a task and to identify the pain points and obstacles the user faces.
Prototyping & Usability Testing
A physical pen and paper is my favourite medium to create super-fast prototypes. To create static prototypes I use tools like Balsamiq, Sketch and Illustrator. At later stages, I create interactive and responsive prototypes in HTML/CSS and JS.
I test the designs with stakeholders and users to find out what works and what needs changes. I iterate this process until it’s finalized. At this stage, I work as a translator who speaks the different languages of developers, engineers, stakeholders and users to ensure that everyone understands each other.
Visual Design & Interactions
I design detailed, beautiful and delightful interfaces and deliver responsive solutions and interactions in Sketch or Illustrator, and where required, in HTML/CSS/JS.
Engineering, Maintenance and Design Iterations
I collect analytic user data and user behaviour to gather heat maps, user abandonment and crash logs using tools such as Google Analytics, MixPanel, CrazyEgg and Clicktale and incorporate insights from this data to iterate and improve the experience of the product.
I believe that successful UX is defined largely by numbers and scientific data, whereas art is subjective.