These are some examples of the tools & techniques I have used in typical activities across key project phases. I’ve make them linear to simplify the explanation, but I’ve have to lived first hand “The design Squiggle” process many times!
For me, the most important thing about these phases has been the clarification of the purpose of each one (The Reason Why), to be able to use them in a “random” order throughout an iterative process according to the specific needs of the project in a given time. For example, not jumping into ideation of solutions without having a clear understanding of what’s the problem and who we are solving the problem for.
Explore & Discovery
The core of what I love to do: there is no substitute for real user insights!
Empathy with users is something that needs to be built from the beginning and be part of the iteration processes throughout the lifecycle of a project.
Additionally, I have used general observation and analysis tools to get a better understanding of the initial problem space as well as the constraints including commercial landscape, business objectives, current technology and business processes.
Typical activities understanding the brief and the business problem:
- Competitor Analysis
- Desktop Research / Data Analysis: organisations, especially large ones, have valuable information that has been used for other purposes that used with human centred lenses and combined with human centred user research methodologies help to uncover valuable insights.
- Stakeholder Interviews and Workshops: using the power of the experts within the organization!
- Expert reviews and interviews
Typical activities understanding the user – User Research:
- User Interviews
- Ethnographic Research
- Diary Studies
- Card Sorting Exercises
- Contextual Inquiry
Making sense of the information collected and connecting the dots!
Reframing the problem and clustering of information to develop insights.
I love this process of rediscovering the project objectives from a user’s perspective that makes sense to the business. This phase largely involves workshopping with colleagues and stakeholders to identify the core elements of the product of service. A meaningful problem statement, personas, user scenarios, user journeys and user stories set the foundations for the ideation phase.
Typical activities to make sense of the information:
- Affinity Diagramming
- Storytelling, Storyboards and Visualisations
- Role Playing
- Journey Mapping
- Empathy Maps
- User Journeys
Ideation, Prototyping, Testing and Iteration
Now that the problem and who we are solving the problem for is defined, I love to get together with colleagues and stakeholders to create possible solutions and evaluate them. This phase involves sketching and rapid prototyping of ideas.
I love to facilitate workshops to bring multidisciplinary teams together to generate ideas and concepts that will solve problems. Some times and depending on the project needs and objectives involving the user during these sessions have proved high value for the project.
Testing the concepts and ideas from very “raw and dirty” concepts and prototypes with real users and use that feedback and understanding to improve and iterate ideas with very low cost and risk mesmerizes me. Learning in very early stages how users react to concepts in a behavioral sense, not and attitudinal way, it’s been a mind blowing tool for me.
Typical activities to come up with ideas:
- How might we?
- Low fidelity sketching
- Co-creation sessions
- Mind Mapping
- Wireframing and Prototyping (paper on initial iterations and interactive for advanced iteration processes)
- Information Architecture structure
- Usability Testing: depending on the type of project it includes not only Usability Testing but Home User Tests (HUT).
With a clear understanding of what the right design entails, in terms of functionality and feasibility, this is all about making sure we’ll get the design right throughout the development phase using clear specifications. Due to the size of the projects, most of projects I’ve been involved in have had a handover phase to a technical team, even though they had been involved in the design phase. This involves creation documentation and reports with specifications.
During development my role is to provide guidance and clarification at every stage, especially when technical constrains arise that could affect the features that constitute the core of the value proposition of the product.
Typical activities during development and execution:
- Technical specifications and requirements document development: this varies according to the product. It could be wireframes annotations, high fidelity interactive prototypes, sitemaps, business cases, value proposition and final approved concepts among others.
To see my process in action visit My Projects