To achieve success in any project you must understand the business goals, users and stakeholder requirements of the project with clarity. This phase includes creating an agreed upon a set of "core guiding principles of design" to help guide creative direction, understanding the “Job to be done” from the user’s point of view and how competitors have approached the problem.
- Project Goals and Success Metrics
- User Goals
- Competitive Analysis
- User Research
For information regarding my guiding principles for design (listed as an element of Discovery) that serves as an anchor for my personal design philosophy visit this link.
Analyze and Ideate
After analyzing the information collected from discovery we can move on to the ideation phase. This portion includes sketching concepts and working through the potential user flows to prevent issues arising while also documenting use cases to make sure we cover the IA in its entirety. Conducting a "Design Sprint" in this phase may also be an effective way to ideate and shorten the steps in the process.
- Sketching concept experiences
- User Flow
- Analytics Review
The design phase is broken into 2 parts, low fidelity, and high fidelity. Both parts include a round of user testing. The low fidelity user testing of a wireframe prototype is primarily conducted to uncover potential usability issues. It’s done at this stage to ensure there are no navigational problems with the information architecture, copy and labels are easy to understand and the general layout of the interface is intuitive. High fidelity user testing with an interactive prototype is conducted to uncover any issues that may have been generated during the visual design portion of the phase. Clarity in the user value proposition and similar elements can also be tested during this phase as well.
- Wireframe Prototype
- Low-Fidelity Usability Testing
- Interactive Prototype (including interaction transitions and interface animation to replicate the experience)
- High-Fidelity User Testing
During and After the design phase, design documentation is created to aid engineering with development. My go to tool for design spec handoff is Zeplin. It provides developers with minute details. Traditionally, details are lost in translation between product design and development. Little details lost aren’t little details as a whole, they ARE the personality of the product. To ensure this doesn’t occur I choose to be proactively involved with development. In addition to granting Zeplin project access, I find it helpful to also provide a full style guide including an interface video to display animation and transitions.
- Interaction Guide + Video
- Development Support
- User Testing
- Data Analysis
Large projects with active users are better launched in phase form. Working with product owners, phases can be mapped out during the low-fidelity design phase.
It's worth mentioning that talking to users shouldn't happen in just one phase, it should be happening throughout the entire process. Whether it's during Discovery while trying to understand the essence of the users needs or after launch while in line at your local coffee shop. There is no easier path to product market fit than talking to users.
Having the entire team involved in brainstorms, card sorting and design review is my standard. While we all have the same mission and are aligned on the same goal — we each have different experiences that influence how we approach the product. It also uncovers different types of talents and a stronger commitment to building the best product possible. Having each team represented in the process will also help shape a culture of design and extends a sense of ownership throughout the company. Therefore, I always openly invite participants to join in on any step of the process.