Process thinking in User Experience (UX)
The first step in user experience needs to be the recognition that every problem is different and will require a separate solution. Because if they are not, then every business is the same which they are clearly not.
In effect there is no quick fix or single standard method but rather there is an armoury of methods each with associated risks, limitations and plus points. Anyone offering a standardise method without flexibility should be asked to leave as they about to cost you a fortune.
Offering user experience services is a bit like dungeons and dragons in that you role your 12 sided dice and hope the business does not throw some trolls at you.
I have worked with very well known agencies who are unable to get their clients to understand the importance of user experience – research, testing and solutions as they focus on the solutions component without proper understanding that it is only one part of a three stage process. The reason that clients give for not paying for research and testing is the assumption that user experience people a such great experts that they can do their job in total isolation from the business and the end users.Maybe ‘Super User Experience Person’ does exist but I doubt it, most importantly users change over time, in what they want and mean by their actions.
Some process steps for user experience
This process list is based on personal experience and is open to reduction or extension based upon just how savvy the client is and how much they really want to be successful rather than just being seen to be doing something.
Understand the problem (concurrent with 2.)
- Do research
- Analyse research
- Get validation of what has been discovered by Target Users and Stakeholders
Define the audience (actors) this is the detail level the Target Users
- Create personas a tool used by the entire project team BA’s, PM’s and Developers to be acquainted with who will use the systemResearch persona types, activities, attitudes etc.
- Define critical tasks Research tasks ecosystem and review engagement strategy
- Define key pathways Main pathway
- Alternative pathways
- Failure pathways
- Create buy-in with Stakeholders
Set the tone of voice
- Type of language
- Level of formality
- Use of jargon, brand identity or subject specific words
- Content style
- Meta standards
- Content object model
- SEO if web based
- Selection of type & method
- Wireframe Concepts
- User testing of Wireframe Concepts
- Wireframe sketches
Client sign off
- User testing of Wireframe prototypes
Wireframe & Visual design integration (prior to this point the use of high fidelity images are counter productive)
Functional specification & analytics specification
- Instruct development
- Usability Test plan
- Accessibility Test plan
- Functional & Content Test plan
Testing with participant screening document
- Review testing results
- Modify labels, interactions & structure in line with findings
Done, until …..
Check interactions based upon analytics and more user testing
Offer enhancements to clients
Some people will look at this list and think it takes years, depending on the project complexity it can take days or weeks for simple web or mobile applications and only months on complex software systems.