My design process
This is called the double diamond approach. It splits the design process into four phases: discover, define, develop, deliver. After the fourth phase the final deliverables should be handed over to the development team to implement the product. This is the design approach I follow but it is only the start.
As a UX designer I consider it my responsibility to go the extra mile and support implementation and test the final product once live. From my experience I know that unforeseen circumstances or technical obstacles will rise during implementation and UX relevant decisions need to be taken. Once the product is live it should be mandatory to test and validate the final outcome again.
When the product is good to go it is time to think about ways and channels to constantly get qualitative feedback from users and augment the quantitative data that is collected automatically. In case something went wrong and the product can’t be released as is, I support product managers with issue prioritisation, sprint planning and design testing. Together with the team I develop a pragmatic strategy to balance product fixing and time to go live.
The first phase is about researching user and business needs. Data is key: quantitative data shows what is happening and qualitative data reveals why it is happening. By analysing quantitative data, interviewing and observing users (and internal stakeholders), creating personas, mapping processes and experiences I help to make sure the team fully understands the problem before it starts to think about solutions.
Next comes problem framing. The team needs to be clear on which exact issues and opportunities it wants to tackle. The Personas, experience maps I created and the user's jobs, pains, gains I discovered will enable the team to prioritise and define product opportunities it sees. The outcome is a set of hypotheses about how we might create a valuable and impactful experience for our users.
During this phase—my favourite by the way—I facilitate collaborative design workshops with stakeholders and/or users. Making use of everyone's creativity results in better concepts and it fosters an inclusive team setup where everyone can participate and contribute. With everyone's input gathered I begin to sketch, wireframe, prototype and test refined concepts of the product. This is a very iterative process and prototypes I build range from paper to actual code (HTML/CSS/JS).
To do this as lean as possible, I work closely with the developers to immediately get feedback regarding the feasibility of concepts and together with the product manager I conduct prototype tests with actual users to ensure value and usability. Through this process we validate the hypotheses defined in the previous phase.
When the team knows what it should build, I develop the product's personality by setting the tone of voice, handpicking beautiful typefaces and crafting a matching color palette. I refine animation of UI elements and deliver high-end mockups. If needed I can design and implement a whole pattern library that developers can use to build the final product. To fine tune the very details of interactions and the user interface, I often sit down with developers and support them to get it right.
Delivering the product is not enough. When others consider their work done, I go the extra mile and validate the live application with actual users to make sure the team actually meets the goals it has set. Evaluating quantitative and qualitative data together with the product manager after launch will help us further improve the product and bring it to the next level.