One of the biggest challenges with product development is designing products that users love. It’s no surprise that in the choppy seas of numerous business stakeholder objectives, company bureaucracy, and budgets constraints, the user’s voice is often one of the first things drown out amid the chaos. The User-Centric Design Process (or UX Design Process or CX Design Process or whatever you want to call it) ensures that the user is front-and-center when making product decisions. This process can be implemented at any point in your product’s lifecycle in order to drive better results – whether you are creating a new product, a new feature, or a complete redesign.
There are two key objectives that you should focus on while working through this process:
Objective 1: Focus Your Efforts
The purpose of User-Centric Design Process is to ensure that you maximize your efforts by focusing on the right things while ensuring that you represent your user’s needs. First and foremost, the focus must be on designing products that fulfill user’s needs and leveraging tools to measure the success of those efforts. Too often, we feel rushed to set up and build an abundance of digital tools because we are told they are “necessary” or because it is cheap and easy. People are often surprised when they discover their efforts are less than fruitful because of mediocre execution or because there are too many tools to maintain with too few resources. It is always better to do a few things exceptionally than do many things average.
“Your job isn’t to build more software faster: it’s to maximize the outcome and impact you get from what you choose to build.”
-Excerpt From: User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton
Objective 2: Transform Your Business
This process can and should transform your business. You will begin to see your customers more as partners that you are helping through their journey. You will see competitors as idea generators for you that you can learn from. Allow your company to evolve from the experiences and information that are right in front of you.
“Online is not something that can be neatly separated from the rest of the organization. It affects every aspect of the organization, from its employees to its customers. So, for that reason, you don’t need an online strategy. You need a single organizational strategy that is heavily influenced by online.”
-Usability Expert, Gerry McGovern
The Main Phases
Above you can see that the process is broken down into 3 main phases:
- Discover – gathering data and requirements that will inform your design and development
- Develop – using the information gathered you will begin forming hypotheses that product will then be built around
- Feedback – once you have begun building and prototyping your product, you should get feedback quickly and often to ensure you are moving in the right direction.
Repeat this process frequently as you develop your products. The first time you go through this, it will be slow. Be patient! Remember that this is likely a new process for you and your team, and the initial data and requirements-gathering will be more thorough. Do not get frustrated! The more frequently you move through the process, especially with the same product, the less time you will need to spend on each step.
Do not fall into the trap in thinking that once you have gone through this once, you are done. There is a very good chance you got it wrong the first time and that’s ok! The goal is to fail often, fail small, and fail in meaningful ways so you are constantly improving. Think of each release as a test to see if your assumptions were correct. Correcting small mistakes is much easier, faster, and less expensive than trying to massive course corrections or redesigns each time you don’t see your desired results. If your assumptions were incorrect, learn from it and try again.
Below are the steps for each phase. The steps in each phase do not always have to be done in this specific order. In later posts, we will go through in detail what each of the steps in the process looks like and how you can begin implementing them into your product development.
The User-Centric Design Process
- Problem Identification
- User Behavior
- Competitive Analysis
- Requirements or Constraints
- Product Goals
- Measurements of Success
- User Research
- Customer Journey Map / User Stories
- Information Architecture
- Content Strategy
- Identify MVP
- Mockups and Wireframes
- Visual Design
- User Feedback
- New Requests
The User-Centric Design Process is to help you build products that your users love. If your users love it, you will earn their trust, they will come back again, and share it with their friends, family, and colleagues. You will begin to see sustainable grown that no “growth hack” can provide you.