If it's possible,
I will find a way
to make it happen
The old world of working in a silo of specialism within a single area and then passing work over to another specialist has so many pitfalls and inherent complexity. This inspired me to develop a holistic skill set for all of the steps involved in creating digital product or services.
Human-Centered Design is a creative approach to problem solving that is used to understand the people for which we are writing policies, creating programs and services. It is a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.
Understand the people, gaining empathy for what problems the people face is key when coming up with solutions for those problems that are specifically designed for them and WITH them. As a user researcher, I design and test ideas as prototypes, driven from insights gained through various interviews and observations with the users, get feedback, iterate and revise our designs until we get it right.
“Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task.”
—Tim Brown, CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO
There are many different methods for User Researchers to learn the expectations of the stakeholders while gaining empathy for users and insights that generate solutions. Below is a group of those methods that I rely on during each phase to create a successful experience for your users and return on investment (ROI).
I have compiled a curated resource library of the 80 methods below (and growing) with descriptions on what they are, why, when and how to use them, along with examples, templates, videos, references and additional articles or books when applicable.
My Reference Library includes more than just these methods, but also any reference materials on Service Design, User Experience Design, User Interface Development, and so much more.
Existing data is collected, scope is defined, and a project brief is created.
Research plan is created and the team immerses themselves in the customer's experience.
Analysis & interpretation of data occurs, themes, insights and customer pain points are identified
Dream up potential solutions, generating ideas via sketching and co-designing with users and other stakeholders
Create an interactive solution that simulates how things should actually work, to elicit feedback, refine and test.
Develop a solution, track metrics, manage and communicate change, improve for roll-out.
When effectively leading a Human-Centered Design project, one needs to understand, not only the best practices of producing artifacts for print, web, video, audio, animation and more, but what is feasible to produce after the iteration phase of concepting without constraints.
I have spent my entire career searching for various projects to learn from and grow my skillset. Whether it was responsive websites, scientific posters, brochures, illustrations, artifacts to visualize research findings for stakeholders, to filming, editing and producing videos and animations to promote the projects as a whole, if there was a need, I was able to either produce the assets myself, or lead a team to produce the assets for me.
Since many of the projects I have been on have had limited resources with varying degrees of abilities, I have had great success in filling in the knowledge gaps through training others or completing the tasks myself.
I create HTML prototypes for testing a more realistic and responsive user experience with end users than what's often done using clickable images. When the demo flow showcases a process going through multiple users, in this case submitting an application for approvals, I have created this demo flow interface that can be shared with clients or stakeholders. They can either follow the directions on the Demo Flow header, click Next and Previous (when not on the first step) buttons, but also jump to a specific page within the flow.
Persona is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a product in a similar way. Personas make it easier for designers to create empathy with users throughout the design process.
Image credit: xtensio
A diagram that explores the multiple steps taken by users as they engage with the product. Experience map allows designers to frame the user’s motivations and needs in each step of the journey, creating design solutions that are appropriate for each.experience
Image credit: effectiveui
A visual representation of the user’s actions to complete tasks within the product. User flow helps build a “common understanding” of each page of your app or site. Visualized user flow makes it easier to identify which steps should be improved or redesigned.
Image credit: Michael Pons
Storyboards are illustrations that represent shots that ultimately represent a story. In UX this stroy illustrates the series of actions that users need to take while using the product. Translating functionalities into real-life situations, helps designers create empathy with the user.
Image credit: Chelsea Hostetter, Austin Center for Design
A visual guide that represents the page structure, as well as its hierarchy and key elements. Designers often use wireframes as the skeletons for mockups. Wireframes are useful when UX designers need to discuss ideas with team members/stakeholders, and to assist the work of visual designers and developers.
Image credit: Nick Babich
Some content above is borrowed from https://uxplanet.org/a-complete-list-of-ux-deliverables-d62ccf1de434 until I can find time to populate these with my own examples.
Having a comprehensive knowledge base of everything User Research, UX Design and UI Development / Implementation has been very handy throughout my career. That, combined with my love for solving puzzles and expanding the technical capabilities of the software that is currently implemented, allows me to expand what others thought to be possible.
In my experience, when Developers say something can’t be done, it means they either don’t know how to do it or just don’t want to do it. If it’s possible, I will find a way to make it happen.
The feasibility of your design ideas are only as good as the person who can build it. I don't present a prototype to a client or stakeholder without having 100% confidence that it can be built. If I don't know how it will be done, I go learn how to make it possible.
It's during the prototoype phase where build interactive experiences to test our solutions with actual users, gather their feedback, revise as needed before re-testing our designs until we get it right. ("right" = meets the criteria that was set to ensure it is optimized for usability, while being desirable, feasible and usable)
Implement phase happens while the prototypes are going through user testing, and the foundation of what users are expecting has been set. THIS is when developers should be choosing which tech stack should be used to implement the designs from prototypes into production.
Since it takes a fraction of time and effort to create interactive prototypes (ranging from low-fidelity sketches to high fidelity, responsive, HTML pages) to test and revise than it does to develop a complete development build, For the highest probability of success, development should not start or tech stack chosen until after the prototypes have been built, tested and seen favorably by stakeholders and users.
Usability testing a fully interactive and responsive prototype would allow Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to be measured such as time on task success rate, time on task, use of search vs navigation, user error rate and more. Users would provide the feedback of what they want, or researchers / testers would learn what users need through observations during user testing.
When working on a project to build out a new decision support tool, before any proper user research has been conducted, the development team had already decided to implement a serverless approach; it is a new trend designed to save money on server costs, like a 'pay-as-you-go' phone plan, the client is only charged for what they use.
This approach means that any large data files would need to be stored as a JSON file would need to be downloaded and processed by the users' computer instead of a much more powerful server.
|Users want:||Developers response (based on technical limitations)|
Previewing in the browser is much quicker than having to wait to download excel every time only to review and determine if it is the right dataset they need or not.
User would need to have the technical knowledge on how to implement that.
No technical implementation knowledge needed
By following the HCD process, you will understand the target users, gaining empathy for what problems they face so that you can design solutions for those problems for and with your users.