"Human-centered design is a design philosophy. It means starting with a good understanding of people and the needs that the design is intended to meet".
Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things, 1988 and 2013
This is my design process, and how we can work together.
Design is lifelong learning, but following those three steps are my success recipe to deliver outstanding user experiences:
- Identifying and understanding the problem
- Exploration and ideation: establishing the most relevant solution after a cycle of testing and iterations
- Following the development of the solution and ensuring a successful shipment
- Measuring outcomes (customer behaviour/satisfaction) and impact of the product
Step 1: Identifying and understanding the problem
When I receive a brief for a new project, I always start by learning as much as I can about the problem we're trying to solve. It usually means meeting the internal stakeholders to get to know their expectations, understand better what success means for them in this particular project, and how they envision their first MVP.
In some cases I can read some documentation, data, and analysis about the product and some specifications for this project, but sometimes the product is still young and documentation hasn't been established yet. That's why it's important to get as many insights as I can from the internal stakeholders, and all the teams involved in the product, such as business development, marketing, data, product and development, getting to know the target user(s), and familiarizing myself with the goals and the competition.
In parallel, I usually conduct informal talks in my circle of contacts: How is the product viewed? Would it be used or is it already used? Those talks bring me fresh and valuable insights that I keep in mind throughout my design process to validate or invalidate my intuition.
I am then able to draw a plan for the rest of the project.
Step 2: Exploration and ideation: establishing the most relevant solution after a cycle of testing and iterations
Working in design sprints with the Agile methodology, I start my process by obtaining a better idea of the existing competition, if any, and establishing a roadmap with the product team. In parallel, I schedule 4/6 appointments for interviews/usability tests, as well as run user interviews.
At this point, I also like to conduct a workshop/brainstorming with as many people of the organization as I can, to obtain plenty of inputs, as I believe that creating a user experience should involve all the persons working in a company.
I gather this research and analyze the data using UX tools such as User Personas, Empathy Maps, and Journey maps, depending on the needs for this specific project, to narrow down to a first solution.
Here comes the "real" design phase:
USER FLOW + WIREFRAMES + DIGITAL PROTOTYPE are the four methods I always use when bringing a solution to life on a project. Using (a lot of) pen and paper and usually Figma, I work on a wide range of solutions.
I talk with developers and product owners and show them my work to get feedback as soon as possible and to be sure that the most relevant solution is framed well for building. At this point, we usually start defining User Stories to implement together and their priorities. Meanwhile, I test the selected solution with users, to be certain that this idea is solving the problem, and providing a good user experience, and I'm happy to start again if not. I'm a firm believer that good designers are professionals dedicated to solving the problem who can leave their ego aside when having to iterate on their solutions.
Once the solution has been solidly tested and validated, I start with the visual aspect of the project, always focusing on usability. At this point, I already know if the dev team works with a specific framework, if the company has a defined visual style and Design System that I can already use.
If not, I let my creativity run free to find an innovative solution, but in both cases always applying the basic rules for a great UI:
- choosing a grid
- defining spacing
- respecting elements hierarchy
- treating white space as a visual element
- thoughtful use of typography
- a distilled colour palette
- usability and accessibility principles
Once a prototype has been presented and validated to the stakeholders, I can start thinking about the animations and micro-interactions.
Step 3: Following the development of the solution and ensure a successful shipment
Supporting the development process is a very important role for me, as I want to make sure the dev team and the project manager have everything they need for releasing the project successfully and within the allotted time.
"Treat everything as a prototype" is one of my core principles: I believe there is always room for improvement and learning, even on products that are extremely usable and enjoyable. Build less, but build better: usability testings are to be run on shipped products, to identify pain points if any, and enhance the product or the implemented feature.
Step 4: Measuring the outcomes and the impact of the product
"Impact is the benefit your organization, and the world, gets when lots of people use your product"
Jeff Patton, "The Mindset That Kills Product Thinking", 2021
As a product designer, it's easy to fall into the trap of exclusively worrying about delivering the product, within the allocated time and scope, rejoicing over an efficient and collaborative shipping, and forgetting about the initial issue I try to solve.
I understood earlier this year that what really matters are working together to solve hard problems and create extraordinary products, helping users to reduce or erase their frustration, so that they feel satisfied when using the product, be it in a professional or personal context.