DeSign process

 

No plan survives contact with the enemy.
— Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Stakeholders Alignment

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Aspects To Discuss & Align On

  • High-level project definition

  • Strategic & business goals

  • Time, budget & resources available

  • General assumptions & presumed target audience

  • Ideas & intentions

  • Dreams & desires

Deliverables

Alignment among stakeholders on the high-level vision of the project. Achieved through meetings and discussions with all the major stakeholders and consultants.

Research Planning

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Aspects To Evaluate

  • Time and budget for research

  • Audience and groups affected

  • Experts and consultants needed

  • Methods and research techniques available

  • Research goals, tasks and priorities (frame the challenge)

  • Assumptions, ideas and hypotheses

  • Schedule and deadlines

and etc. (depends on the project)

Deliverables

A research plan. Achieved through further meetings, discussions, analysis of business goals and shallow research on the project area and competitors.

Research

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At this stage we get to know our target audience, observe their lives, behaviours and activities. We are interested in all aspects of their lives which may influence their perception and interaction with the our future product.

Key Principles

  • “Understanding people is the only way to find solution to their problem” mindset

  • Asking the right questions (right questions are the key to a proper solution)

  • Put empathy at the core of the process (aim to listen, hear and understand why)

  • Embrace ambiguity (there are various solutions to the problem and we are open to explore them)

  • Observe with an open mind and try to be bias-free

Methodology

  • Make secondary research (read internet, articles, case studies, research papers, expert interviews and etc.)

  • Look how others solve similar problems (competitive analysis)

  • Collaborate and gather information from other departments within the company

  • Analyze the research participants and consult on how to approach and talk to them (they may be of different culture or views)

  • Talk with people both individually and in groups. With representatives of both extreme and mainstream views (the broader the spectrum of people, the better)

For Each Interaction Session

  • Think of conversation starters (to get the session going in the right direction)

  • Use the right body language

  • Motivate participants to think and be active during the session

  • Think of the proper wording beforehand (different words evoke different emotions)

  • Motivate and observe participants’ reaction and feedback. Be prepared to adjust the session based on it

  • Pick individuals or groups and immerse yourself in their lives and activities (shadow them or get a guided tour)

  • Use the "5 Why's" method to tackle complex questions

  • Use card sorting to understand users mental models and perceptions

  • Use resource flow chart to understand how participants distribute assets (monetary, livestock, seeds, labor)

  • Ask participants to express themselves through doing something (collage or a banner, for example)

For a more activity-centered approach the same principle would apply, but with more focus on participants’ behaviour and actions (every-day or event-based). One of the ways to better understand behaviour is to map or draw it in a form of a flow diagram or a storyboard and then analyze it. Even better if you do it together with the participant.

Deliverables

Various types of data: cases, inspirational stories, photos, videos, interviews, diagrams, participants-generated content and ideas, storyboards and sketches, personas, documented goals, needs, fears, motivations, constraints, aspirations, behaviours and etc.

Ideation

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This is the stage to make sense of everything that we’ve learned. Our goals here are to generate tons of ideas, identify opportunities for design and test the ideas we came up with. As every stage in this list, this one should also have a deadline.

Key Principles

  • Stay optimistic (always)

  • Iterate constantly (we won't get it right from the first time)

  • Fail faster (the faster we fail, the faster we can move to a new idea)

  • Rapid prototyping (it is more efficient to prototype and test, than lose time in discussions)

  • More testing (testing is the only thing that can prove or disprove an idea)

Core Solution Requirements

  • Desirable (by humans)

  • Viable (for business)

  • Feasible (to develop)

Methodology

  • Share notable findings from the research stage with your teammates

  • Combine all your findings in one place that every teammate can access

  • Create frameworks & visualize your data (journey maps, relational maps, 2x2s)

  • Identify key ideas, insights, patterns, themes and etc.

  • Identify design challenges and re-frame them to design opportunities ("How might we…?" statements)

  • Brainstorm ideas (using best practices of brainstorming)

  • Match user needs to business goals to find opportunities

  • Get visual with ideas to explain them more efficiently

  • Mash up products and services to get a different perspective (“What is a Facebook version of savings account?”)

  • Trust your gut (if you feel something is worth exploring - do that)

  • Cluster ideas to groups, bundle them together and form more complex concepts (something that can be tested)

  • Pick best concepts (based on gut feeling + desirable/viable/feasible principles)

  • Storyboard, prototype and role play the concepts you have picked

  • Test your concepts with people and do co-creation session to improve them or generate new ones

  • Analyze feedback, iterate and keep improving your concepts

  • Remind yourself of the project business goals (create a business model canvas)

Deliverables

One or several solutions and prototypes that will be taken into implementation stage. If several solutions are taken into parallel development, later some of them may be discarded or combined to form a single product.

Implementation Planning

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Human-centered design (HCD) methodology is all about iterations. That is why Agile/Lean and HCD are always going hand-in-hand. The following are the key principles for setting up the development process with regards to HCD process.

Key Principles

  • Define project success and map key milestones that lead to it

  • Involve sales, marketing, PR and other stakeholders into the design process (get their perspectives and priorities)

  • Create a roadmap for the project ("What needs to happen in the next month? In three months? In a year?")

  • Focus on minimum viable product (MVP) features first

  • Apply 80/20 rule to the product feature set

  • Set up easy and fast methods to collaborate and cooperate with all stakeholders (on the cultural level, too)

  • Set up guidelines for prioritization of features and tasks (and align everybody on those)

  • Agree on definitions (this will save a lot of time during discussions)

Deliverables

Alignment between the team and stakeholders on the overall expectations and way the development process will be conducted.

MVP Implementation

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This is the stage to bring a solution to life. Stay focused on the users needs and business goals, but keep an open mind about ways to meet and achieve them. During the course of the development the solution will inevitably evolve and change. Embrace that as this is what iterations are for.

Key Principles

  • Motivate everyone to think as a designer (the more perspectives, the merrier)

  • Give agency and freedom to explore (within the affordable budget)

  • Process is king (follow the process, nothing is above the process)

  • If the process doesn't work - change the process (and keep following it)

  • Prioritize value, consistency and usability

  • Make use of patterns and best practices

  • Create a detailed plan only for the next sprint/release/iteration

  • Data is king-ish (gather data and give preference to data-informed decisions)

  • Verbal feedback is never a universal truth (it is just a perception of the overall picture)

  • Understand, meet and exceed user expectations (the essence of great user experience)

Methodology

  • Create user stories for the key tasks (description of a task from the perspective of a user)

  • Create and keep refining the product pitch (helps to understand the product better)

  • Keep an up-to-date IA diagram and screen map

  • Create and keep updating the user journey map

  • Go from big to small (focus on product structure in the beginning and adjust details later) 

  • Include accessibility, onboarding, tutorial, revenue generation and analytics in the core architecture

  • Use usability and accessibility guidelines to drive the design process

  • Go in iterations & do small deliveries of a testable product

  • Reserve enough time for testing and reflecting after each delivery

  • Test features and visuals on interactive prototypes before building them into the product

  • Stay rough on visuals until the core UI structure is there (use wireframes and low-fidelity mockups instead)

  • Use references, patterns and best practices for UI (do not reinvent the wheel in the beginning)

  • Have a live version of the current product for inside testing

  • Create a temporary live prototype for public to test (if makes sense for the project)

  • Test for usability, consistency, value and accessibility

  • Use A/B testing to find the best solutions

  • Monitor, measure, evaluate and keep getting feedback

  • Use heuristics to better understand users' behaviour (print key heuristics principles on the wall)

  • Think in terms of habit-forming techniques (trigger/action/reward/investment)

  • Do pilot version and soft-launches before final launch

Deliverables

A working product MVP that is being used regularly by one or several clients.

Incremental Improvement Loop

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This is what comes after we get the MVP into the hands of our first users. Here we are making the product better. We do that by better understanding and enhancing the value our product brings. We try to figure out why our current users stick with the product and what stands in the way of our potential users to adopt the product.

Understand Product Value Through

  • Current users’ feedback (comments, interviews, observation and shadowing)

  • Current users’ feature requests

  • Reaching potential users (meetings, presentations, guided tours, observations, interviews)

  • Built-in analytics

  • A/B tests

Another part of the incremental improvement loop is gathering data on how users interact with the product in order to improve the experience and meet the business goals. The “HEART” framework offers a good combination of everything worse measuring for.

“HEART” Framework

  • Happiness (survey, ratings, comments, social media posts)

  • Engagement (regularity and intensity of use, habit forming potential, session length)

  • Adoption (the number of new users over a certain time frame)

  • Retention (the amount of time users continuously return to your product)

  • Task success (time spent on a task, percentage of successful completions of a task)

Measuring Techniques

  • Tracking URLs

  • Visit duration (overall and per page)

  • Events (loading, downloads, ad clicks, CTA clicks, exit, conversion, etc.)

  • Breakpoints (for tracking user flow through screen leading to an event)

  • Search tagging

  • Heat Maps

  • Cookies

Accessibility Services

  • Audioeye

  • Toonimo

User Testing Services

  • usertesting.com

  • usabilityhub.com

Accessibility Tracking

  • Siteimprove

Along side with that you still need to perform usability and accessibility test for the new features and for all the major new changes introduced both inside the team and with the users before sending them out to production.