UX Leadership

UX research in the application lifecycle

I build UX teams and develop engagement models grounded in UX methodologies. Even before I'd heard of "UX", I was thinking of ways to solve user problems, collaborate with teammates, and streamline processes.

I know that the digital product development life cycle takes ideas from planning to delivery. I've played a part in all stages. UX research and design happens before, during, and even after products launch.

Foundational Research

I start with research and design in the early discovery stage to define the problems in need of solutions. Here, UX talks with users, identifies pain points, and attempts to answer the questions, Who are our users? and What problems can we solve for them?

Typical activities in this stage include:

  • User interviews
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Competitive audit
  • Diary and Fields studies

Design Research

In the design phase of the product development life cycle, UX helps to inform our ideas, so that they fit the user's needs. The big question I try answer in this stage is How should we build solutions and measure success?

Typical activities in this stage include:

  • Usability studies
  • A/B testing
  • Card sorting
  • Competitive audit
  • Intercepts

Post-Launch Research

Happy days when products are released! Now is the time to engage in post-launch research. Here, UX tries to evaluate how well a product or feature meets the needs of the end-users. The goal of post-launch research is to understand how users experienced the product and answer the question, Did we succeed?

Typical activities in this stage include:

  • Log analysis
  • Surveys
  • A/B testing
  • Usability study

"It’s not just a case of making things look nice. It’s not just a nice to have, and sort of a polish at the end. But this is a fundamental part of making sure that everything we do delivers the real value and outcomes that people are looking for."

— Bethany Jarroussié

A Design Process

In general, I follow an iterative design process as illustrated below. I strongly believe that UX is a team sport, so I try to collaborate with team members across various disciplines throughout the process.

a design process

It begins in the concept phase. Here, we immerse ourselves in the business domain, the product or service, and most importantly, an understanding of the end-users.

Then, in the design phase we generate ideas, lots of them. We'll synthesize and analyze these ideas and decide which ones to pursue as possible solutions.

Finally, in the implement phase, we deliver informed, user-centered solutions that are actionable to our product delivery teams and stakeholders.

The key steps are to

  1. Understand how end-user's experience a product or feature
  2. Churn out lots of design ideas as possible solutions
  3. Test and validate designs against the user’s needs

"Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works."

— Steve Jobs

But it's not the only process I follow

Lean UX

Like most design processes, lean is iterative. This means our product teams continue development as we do UX research and gather stakeholder feedback.

Lean UX process

In the first step, we Think about the user's issues are experiencing, as well as design solutions. This involves research, of course. We start by focusing our ideas around who this product is for and how it will help them.

Next, we Make, by designing first with low-fi sketches and wireframes. From there we'll move to prototypes and arrive at a minimum viable product (MVP). We'll use this to test with target end-users.

The third step in lean is to Validate with users and gather feedback from project stakeholders. It's a continuous-improvement loop! We learn, refine, and repeat this three-step process again, as needed.

Double Diamond

Diverge and Converge.

I like using the double diamond process in discovery workshops because it helps to frame our activities into "thinking" and "doing", that just so happens to match nicely with the two "research" and "design" diamonds in this process.

These two diamonds have their own two parts, and when combined, they create the entire process. It begins with Discovery to understand our end-user, the problems they face, and insights about any other potential issues.

Next, we Define problems by synthesizing data that allows us to focus on issues the product or feature aims to solve.

Then we Develop designs that solve said problems.

And finally, we Deliver the insights and artifacts that lead to delivery.

Double-diamond design process

Design Thinking

Five steps of design thinking

The first rule of ideation is: "There are no bad ideas!"

It starts with empathy to discover who our end-users are and an understanding of the challenges they face. Next, we define a clear problem statement, or a description of the user needs we'll address. This will give us focus and put our team on a clear path. Step three is we ideate or brainstorm for solutions. Again, the more the better! After that, we focus on ideas to design and prototype so that we can validate as viable solutions. The last step of design thinking is to test our prototypes with users.

"Want your users to fall in love with your designs? Fall in love with your users."

— Dana Chisnell

Five Values of UX

If there are humans interacting with technology, there is a user experience. Don't you agree it should be a great one?

Improve customer experience and loyalty

Empathizing with end-user means we design with them in mind, solve their issues, and deliver features and services they want.

Five values of ux

Become a customer-centric organization

Great UX is good business and delivers a great ROI.

Improve team cohesiveness and collaboration

Delivering great UX isn't just in the designer’s domain. Get everyone in the product team involved.

Reduce costs from errors and rework

Great UX means we're delivering the right things - not just anything.

Drive innovation

UX fosters a culture of innovation by exploring possibilities and validating success.