Stakeholder Interviews

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One of the first things I do right at the beginning of the project is discussing with the stakeholders. It is essential that we understand the problems they want solving. Interviewing stakeholders is somehow similar to interviewing users since both categories may not be the best in articulating what the real issues are.

For this process I use tools like:

  • Stakeholder maps
  • Affinity mapping
  • Questionnaires

Heuristic Evaluation

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The heuristic evaluation is reviewing the current product against a pre-determined set of rules based on best usability practices. For me it is important to perform the site analysis to get a deeper understanding of the product. At this point I may already get some ideas to contribute to the requirements of the new site.

Tools I use:

  • Observation list
  • Heuristic analysis report
  • Ideas for requirements list

Competitor Analysis

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A thorough competitive analysis requires an organised effort to gather information about competition. The process helps gaining insights into current market trends. Knowing what the competition approach is helps the team not to do the same mistakes and make good ideas better.

Tools:

  • Competition analysis brief
  • Finding highs and lows

Quantitative Research

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Using the quantitative data is a key method for understanding whether users are actually reaching the goals on the site and where they are dropping off in the journey. The website data page data such as page views, bounce rate, and average time on page can give us a lot of information that can help identifying where the issues are along the journey.

Tools:

  • Google Analytics
  • Site Heatmaps
  • Quantitative audits

Qualitative Research

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User research is the main qualitative research technique that I use for known goals, such as ensuring the site meets specific project objectives. Depending on the case I use several user research techniques that can be used throughout the project lifecycle.

Commonly used research techniques

  • User Interviews
  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Surveys
  • Focus Groups
  • Usability Testing

Information Architecture

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During the design of site or applications I create models for information structure and use them to design user-friendly navigation and content categorization. The responsibilities may extend to making sure categories and subcategories of information are distinct and user friendly

IA Techniques

  • Card sorting
  • Detailed sitemaps
  • Decision flow diagrams

Personas

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In order to get a functional and usable product we need to know who we’re designing for. As a part of a lean process I usually create the personas as a part of the research phase of the project, before the user testing process. Personas are the team’s best guest as to who is using the product and why. After user testing we go back and we check if our assumptions were valid and create a new series of more accurate personas.

How I do it:

  • Sketches
  • Persona templates
  • Brainstorming process

Journey Mapping

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I am using journey maps to visualise the customer needs and pain points as people interact with the application or website. Journey maps can be an effective communication tool within the organisation and can focus team effort on the right outcomes.

How:

  • Providing focus and context for the journey being mapped
  • Analyse the user experience in the context of a journey
  • Analyse insights derived from the journey

Scenarios and Storyboards

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I usually start by creating a list of scenarios that I think we should explore and then I illustrate how the scenario for the storyboard would look like.Tools like scenarios and storyboards are primarily meant to be brainstorming tools

Tools:

  • Whiteboard
  • Digitise and sketch in

Sitemaps and Flow Diagrams

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In the last phase of the research stage the team needs to have a clear idea about the structure of the website or application. Before wire framing the team should sit on the same page in terms of content structures and how users may navigate through them. Sitemaps and flow diagrams are a visualisation of the journeys the user may to take navigating the website or the app.

Software I use

  • MindNote
  • Sketch
  • Integrity plus (for existing websites)

Ideation

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I use ideation as a transition process from identifying problems to creating solutions for the users. Ideation is a chance to combine the understanding the team has of the problem space and people we are designing for with our own imagination to generate solution concepts. Particularly early in a design project, ideation is about pushing for a widest possible range of ideas from which the team can select, not simply finding a single, best solution. The determination of the best solution will be discovered later, through user testing and feedback

How we do it:

  • Brainstorming sessions
  • White board wireframing
  • Sketching

Wireframes

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Wireframing is a very important part of the user experience process but it’s not the only one. As you have seen on this page the entire process of creating usable products is vast. Knowing how to design wires doesn’t necessary make someone an user experience designer. The wires are a way of identifying the proposed content and structure, as well as functional behaviours of a view of a website or an application.

My wireframing process:

  • I start with wireframing on paper
  • After the initial validation stage I use Sketch to design medium fidelity wireframes (for this stage I have also used tools like: Axure, Balsamiq, OmniGraffle, PowerPoint, Keynote)
  • Sometimes HTML/CSS wireframes might be needed. See the “Prototypes” section

Prototypes

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After the wireframing stage prototypes are an effective way of testing and validating design functionality prior the development stage. I also use prototyping to experiment and ideate with my team or with stakeholders, especially when it comes to dealing with page view flows or complex interactions.

How I approach it:

  • Paper prototypes – quick to create, cheap, effective in first stages of user testing
  • Clickable prototypes – I usually convert the medium res wireframes into clickable prototypes using tools like InVision, Axure, Principle or Keynote/Powerpoing
  • HTML Prototypes – I always advocate for html interactive prototypes which I do myself if the time allows it. They are ideal for testing interactions and proposed functionality

Design

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Design is the process in which I apply colours and beautiful design to the structure of the wireframes in respects to brand guidelines. I usually start with designing mood boards to communicate the overall visual design direction or aesthetics to stakeholders. I then start mocking up most complex pagse first, to solve any design complexities sooner than later. Usually, design approaches on most complex pages scale down to simpler pages as well.

Tools I use:

  • Sketch
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator

A/B Testing

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Once the design is ready, tested and ready to go live the user experience designer’s work doesn’t stop here. It just starts another cycle with a new set of pain points and things we can improve. One of my favourite tools, and the most efficient after user testing is A/B testing. This type of testing is simple and allows you to measure the success of the product and test the hypothesis of design decisions in real world and with actual users.

Tools I Use

  • Google Analytics
  • Optimizely
  • Mouse heat map analysis