During university, as well as from working with people in Higher Education Institutions across the world, I have developed and refined a method of working that works best for me. I have found that this really helps me to ensure that the team I am in is working to create an end-product that’s tailored to the user's needs.
Research & Ideas
I believe that every project should start with as much research as possible, this may include stakeholder interviews, testing current working models or completing a competitor analysis. At this early stage of the process, we need to know what's worked well in the past, what doesn't work at the minute and where we should be aiming towards.
Ideas are one of the most important part of the project, it’s during this period that I get as many ideas out as possible. I’ve done things such as IBM’s Design Thinking to help me generate a lot of ideas, I’ll do wire framing, testing basic interaction as well as user research. I just enjoy getting as much information as possible and then going through it all.
This was the case during my UXD project, where I got a lot of information from TripAdvisor, as well as conducting my own User Research and then going through and completing a thematic analysis on all of the information. This allowed me to generate my own principles for success that I decided I wanted to develop my prototype around, which would help me tailor my design for the users of the museum. I would love to do this for every project, as I really think its key to setting off on the right foot.
I would say that one of the most important things I've learned over my career has been that you can never do too much testing, particularly with the user.
Designing the product is also key to success. Before I jump into development (as much as I want to) I understand the importance of good design. During the design phase, I’ll normally want to start off with a competitor analysis task so I can see the good and bad from what others have done. This is a great way of learning from previous experience and also getting a good feel of how people will react to different things.
The next thing I’d do is an advancement on the brief ideas I created during my ideas phase. This might see me sketch up a lot more ideas, storyboard ideas, try some paper-prototyping or different methods of prototyping such as Adobe XD. This allows me to play around with a lot of different ideas so that when I go into development, it can be as smooth as possible as I’ll know my favourite design.
I’d also use this stage to use the prototyping to see what people think about the interaction/designs that I’m creating. I found this very useful during the Roman Hairstyles project that I carried out. I create a paper prototype, showing the interaction of the final project that I was going to create, and asked stakeholders within the project, what they thought so far. This way I was able to gain meaningful responses from just a basic version of something that I’d created.
During development, it’s normally pretty hectic and in small teams it can be difficult to keep a focus on UX while developing to tight schedules.
However, part of the workflow I have helped to introduce at SkillsForge allows for AGILE UX development, by researching, testing and designing in sprints. I find that this works a lot better than traditional waterfall based UX methods and offers a lot of benefits with very few drawbacks! I think that this is particularly useful when working on large scale projects that could span 2+ years. A lot of behaviours are manipulated by other large websites, so we should expect behaviours to alter at least every year, if not more, so staying up to date with our users and our understanding of them is paramount.