I believe that good design begins with understanding how user's think and feel about their experience as a whole. Instead of asking users what they would like to see on their screens (solution-focused), I work to understand what things people are currently doing, why they are doing them and what their points of frustration or inconvenience are (pain points). By digging into people's existing behaviors, motivations and frustrations, I can better understand the user's experience as a whole instead of jumping to solutions before the problem is properly understood.
Research analysis is conducted to organize findings into themes and patterns that are relevant to the product being designed. This analysis can take different forms and results in a document or map that is then used to direct design decision throughout the process. This documents helps to not only consolidate research findings, but also creates empathy and directs design decision throughout the rest of the process. This ensures designs are evidence-based and helps identify areas of opportunity for the business.
I facilitate workshops with stakeholders to identify business requirements and collaboratively ideate on potential solutions to pain points identified through the research. This allows me to get a deeper understanding of the vision for the product in light of the research findings. At the end of this session we identify which areas to prioritize in the upcoming prototype. I record the details of this workshop using an online collaborative whiteboard platform, that all groups can view and interact with so that all ideas and perspectives can be captured.
The creation of a prototype is iterative and often requires making low-fidelity concepts before identifying the best solution to meet the user's needs. The most innovation solutions often come from considering multiple ideas. This is why there is a period of divergence where a wide variety of ideas are rapidly created and considered in order to identify the best solution. This period of rapid, low-fidelity design is a great way to save time and energy before pushing an idea into high-fidelity where it can be tested with users for validation.
Using special software, designs or images are created that look very similar to a website or app. These designs are then linked together to form a prototype that has clickable areas and allows for user interaction. This prototype is then tested with users for feedback. Creating a prototype allows for ideas to be tested before spending time and energy developing a product. Feedback from stakeholders and developers is also important during this phase of work to ensure that the solution meets business requirements and is feasible for development.
Prototype testing provides feedback from real users on things like visual communication, language and copy as well as the hierarchy or strucure of the system. Puting concepts in front of users provides detailed feedback that is not often available when discussing ideas conceptually. Testing can occur in one or two rounds of depending on the type of project. It is important to conduct reasearch that aspires to understand how user's think rather than asking users if they like what they are seeing. A testing research strategy is an important deliverable in this phase of work.
It is important to note that this process is more of a toolbox rather than a linear walkthrough of a series of steps that will result in a human-centered product. In some projects, I have validated designs with users incrementally where I would build out of a feature of a product and then validate it with users immediately. This would continue until the product has been fully built. Depending on the type of project and access to users that is available, this process will vary depending on these constraints.
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Feel free to reach and out and connect with me if you also love talking about design and the potential it has to bring about positive change in the world. I am always interested in refining my craft and continuing to grow as a designer and I welcome collaboration and new opportunities to tackle intriguing problems.
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© Jacqueline Williams 2021 | UX Designer
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