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User-centered Design Process

I've recently had a chance to look at User Experience process. I like a lean, iterative, approach to most things in life. I'm interested in (but not very experienced in) UX, so my take on a User Centered Design process is heavily informed by what I do know well: Front End Development.

Below is a quick run through of what I would look at as a first pass of an evolving UCD process. The most important part for me is to iterate, measure, and get user feedback (via usability testing) at every step, so that the product can be adapted throughout the process.

There's some crossover and overlap, but I'd divide the process into: Research and Analysis, Concept, Design, Prototyping, Develop, and Launch.

The Research phase is about requirements gathering. They can broadly be separated into:

  • User;
  • Business;
  • Design;
  • Technology.

Important areas to cover are:

  • Need;
  • Context;
  • Users, including demographic;
  • Accessibility concerns.

Some tools and techniques that would be used to gather information for the Analysis:

  • Personas, Scenarios, and User Journeys;
  • Task analysis;
  • Use cases, Storyboards;
  • Card sorting exercises;
  • Quantitative and Qualitative stats gathering;
  • One on one user interviews, Field studies, and Surveys / Questionnaires;
  • Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats analysis, including Competitor analysis.

The Concept phase uses the information gathered in the Analysis phase to start creating a solution. Visualisation is key, so a mind map would be sketched out, as would flow charts or screen flows.

The Design phase is when things things really start to take shape. Lots of sketches with pen and paper would be churned out, and reviewed and revamped. Once a direction is established, wireframes would start being pulled together, and a design glossary / style guide would start being created for reference later.

Once wireframes are fairly solid, we would move into Prototyping. These would be subject to expert review and cognitive walkthroughs with users. These would provide feedback and identify patterns and problems with the design.

The Develop phase is covered by a previous post: Updated Workflow.

The most important part of the Launch (in terms of UCD) is to continue measuring and adapting: good products keep evolving.