In this piece, I won’t get into specifics about what tools are best, there are plenty of other posts covering that. The focus will be more on our particular approach and process.
A process is something that evolves, some things work well, others not so much, but with every project, we get better and better, constantly learning, tweaking and improving. Even after many years of experience, this is still the case, constantly making small improvements that over time make a big impact on our business.
Our UX Process
A deep understanding of the user is a key area to consider before starting any design process. Each user has very different pain points, and in the case of a product with different user types (think a marketplace app) they are coming to the product for different reasons, so ensuring we understand these things first is extremely important. How do we do this? Going deep on the user research, and by creating solid user personas to refer back to. When we think we have found a good solution to a particular problem, just having those personas to refer back to really helps focus the mind.
We believe that solving UX problems is always something that should be done with pen and paper (or marker and whiteboard, even post-its! 😆), this process is usually referred to as paper prototyping. This approach lends itself to rapid prototyping and even faster iteration, from a client standpoint it is also a super engaging and fun experience. Even if we are not working with the client face to face (think remote design sprints), we always use this same approach internally, it just works well. Paper prototypes don’t need to be pretty, it’s a quick way to test the flow, understand a problem area or test an idea, all with low friction, low cost and low commitment in time and resource. If it doesn’t work, recycle the paper and try the next idea!
Whilst we are on the subject of whiteboards, we always set-up a new board in Miro at the start of a project. You can quickly accumulate a lot of information for a project (brief, assets, inspiration, wireframes etc) and Miro is a great way to share and manage these. Think of it as a huge digital whiteboard you can work together on with the client.
That said, having the client in the room at this point is ideal, getting that immediate feedback and answers to questions are something you cannot beat. This is a big part of our process and one that is probably one of the most satisfying.
The output of all this collaboration is a top-level product flow, the next step is to recreate this digitally in the form of wireframes. Our design stack for this is tried and trusted, Figma (or Sketch + Marvel). Every Product Designer will have their own preferences and the choice of tools available is vast; Invision Studio, Adobe XD, Balsamiq, the list goes on, but in our experience, it’s really a case of experimenting, you will quickly find which of these fits you best.
One thing that is an important consideration is project collaboration. Having the ability to share documents, comment and even work together on one document at the same time are useful features to have. We like clients to review and comment directly in our Figma prototype, giving us a single source for all feedback. This is great for the client and also provides us with an easy way to review and resolve any feedback.
We tend to produce our wireframes in very high fidelity, capturing much of the detail in the finished product. One of the main reasons for doing this is efficiency, the small amount of extra time we invest in capturing all the detail around interaction and content at this point makes the UI process much more efficient. Once all of the screens are finalised, we prototype these in Figma, adding all the core areas of user interaction. We can then test the product flow in detail, this is the ideal opportunity to test any assumptions or flag any areas of concern before we move on. We are big advocates of ongoing user testing, that is a whole other post in its own right, but there is nothing more valuable than testing the product with users that fit your target market. At this stage nothing is set in stone, we can quickly update screens, run them through Figma and test again until we have a seamless user experience.
Whilst, not an exhaustive account, this is our UX process in a nutshell. I’m sure with time this will change, but as I mentioned at the outset, that is something that all good processes should do. Technology changes, new design tools are launched, but that is what makes it exciting, always looking to improve, delivering better client experiences and knock out creative work.
We would love ❤️ to know about your processes, hit us up on email, social media and all the usual touch points, tell us how you like to work and what your design stack looks like 🤔