A good friend of mine and extremely talented designer asked me many times “why do you think that if you follow the same process, you will always end up with the best solution? This is Design, not Science! It takes intuition and decision making along the way!”
I spent a long time assuming if I followed the correct path I will always end up at a design solution. But somewhere along that path is interpretation, intuition and creativity. I still need to ‘design’ the thing. Sometimes the answer is staring you in the face and you think “really, I can’t be the only one that see’s this”, whilst other times you could spend many frustrating days waiting for the elements to align themselves and for you to suddenly reach creative enlightenment. “You’re a designer, so you still need to ‘design’ something” my friend would remind me occasionally!
Since then I’ve taken on many more projects and pushed myself to explore several approaches to work; artistically-experimental, research-driven, practical, and more traditional design processes. User-experience (UX) is a design discipline that’s proud to have a set of keywords, processes and guiding principles. I’ve tried to document them below in the order in which they would usually be tackled.
You cannot design anything until you know who you’re designing for. Although this isn’t a UX or IxD principal – I was taught this in my introduction to graphic design – this is just how you design something. Every piece of design communicates something, you need to deliver the message in the most effective way for the group of people you are focused on, as well as being mindful of miscommunication and misinterpretation from the focus group and other groups.
A fictional person who is created to represent the needs, goals, objectives and motivations for a similar section of users. When certain types of users have clearly different or competing needs additional personas are created to capture the different user types.
Short stories that describe with a high-level of detail how a user will interact with the product you’re designing. They describe the goals and objectives of the user in a more personal and human way including context.
Step-by-step flow of common journeys to understand different steps the user needs to complete before reaching their goal. These can be thought of as a simplification of scenarios, removing some context and focus on the expectations the user has from the product.
High-level diagrams that show all potential scenarios for an entire end-to-end journey. The flow makes it easier to identify all the various pages and loopbacks within a digital product.
User to identify the crucial journeys that a user will undertake to complete common tasks. Helps increase focus on common scenarios to ensure we’re always creating the best possible experience.
Help to elaborate on red routes, by providing the context for specific user behaviours using a traditional template: “As a <role>, I want <goal/desire> so that <benefit>”. For example, “As a non-administrative user, I want to modify my own schedules but not the schedules of other users.“
In the case of a digital product these are neatly organised boxes that represent content, features and navigation for a particular view. Each wireframe would represent a required view that can be understood from the user flows.
Now take something that’s static and allow someone to click through it. HTML websites have been doing this for a while-now, so that can be a fairly good starting point! More and more shiny tools are becoming available, mostly doing the same thing in a different way. The idea is to simulate the final experience of the product, click a button and go to the next step in that flow.