The following are a selection of research methodologies I use in the discovery stage of my design process.
Observing people in their natural environment, I use this when redesigning an existing system or when I’m trying to understand a specific challenge or problem.
Business Model Canvas
Helps frame key aspects of a business or a service and is a fluid process that can I sometimes like to redo as the project changes or as it moves towards implementation.
Qualitative one on one conversations between researcher and user or stakeholder. I ask open-ended questions about behaviours and get users/stakeholders to summarise their thoughts and focus on the most important points.
I use the template below to sketch a bio and demographics, behaviours and habits, stories scenarios and frustrations, Needs problems and goals of a particular user of the product we are designing.
Derived from scenarios within the persona. I take the persona and clearly show how we will fix the problem a user has and show what the user experience is beyond the interface. This is done by illustrating 6-8 scenes within a scenario of the user solving the problem.
Problem Statements and Hypothesis
Problem Statement - (Persona Name) needs a way to (User’s Need), because (insight) Hypothesis - We believe that (doing this), for (these people), will achieve (this outcome). We will know this to be true when we see (this feedback/quantitative measure/qualitative insight)
How Might We's
A great method for brainstorming, ideation and reframing the problem. Start with the problem statement and rephrase them as questions by adding ‘How might we’ at the beginning.
Used to highlight the emotions and attitudes users experience through a flow. Shows movement through a system or service, and may not reference the interface. Used for a multi-channel strategy, looking for opportunity and innovation and trying to optimise for the ideal user journey.
Different from the user journey flows contain an entry point, exit point and steps, tasks and subtasks. It shows how the user flows through a specific app, site, task scenario and represents the choices a user can take from A to B.
I use this method to define indirect competitors or to define the real problem and not our assumption of what the problem is and get to the human and emotional roots of the problem.
Having an understanding of cognitive biases helps me to make informed design decisions as well as processing data that involves understanding human behaviour. Here is a link to the Cognative Bias Codex below
Data can be overwhelming a good way to gain insights from what I have collected is to map it out into groupings based on their natural relationships.
This sounds boring marketing mumbo jumbo but it is an invaluable tool when creating a new product of exploring a new idea. I have an example of the template I use in the link below.
I use this when mapping out features to be released in the MVP and following versions of the project. Stands for: Must have, Should have, Could have and Would have but won't get.
Or app mapping if you're designing an app. This is a quick step I take before designing wireframes to quickly flesh out what screens I need to design and what pages are linked to other pages.
A matrix of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to analyse a business or idea. Helps uncover opportunities that can be exploited. And by understanding the weaknesses of your business/idea, you can manage and eliminate threats that may not have been evident.
The following are a selection of workshops I use to gain insights, think innovatively and overcome creative block. Workshops are part the discovery stage of my design process.
Collaborative Design Studio
Great technique for brainstorming with stakeholders. Workshop format: Define problem > Diverge to design > critique each other and dot vote > Iterate/refine again > Converge to one design.
Bad idea/good idea
Choose scenario to illustrate 6-8 of the worst ideas for solving the problem - then illustrate 6--8 ideas to solve the problem by looking at the bad ideas as inspiration. Can then expand one idea into a storyboard.
One of the best methods for gaining insights into how users categorise large amounts of data into different categories that determine the information architecture of a project. Can be done online via Optimal Workshop or in person with a pen, paper and a surface to organise.
The following are a selection of prototyping techniques I call upon for different projects.
Using paper, a sharpie, cardboard, scissors post-it notes I flesh out a design and get it in front of someone to test and fail fast.
Both clickable and coded I use InVision, Sketch to create something quickly for client presentations and testing purposes.
There are 2 methods I use for wireframing depending on what the project requires. Archaic - Pencil and paper. Modern - Balsamiq Mockups.
Design Pattern Library
I have created a custom pattern library for Sketch. This is what I used to begin the UI design - no need to reinvent the wheel for every project just add some custom spokes. View pattern library.
Affordances and micro-interactions, empty states, loading states, error states, complete/success states. View a selection here
Gestures, less real estate, a wide range of devices and screen sizes, context use and network latency. Just a few considerations when designing for mobile.
Help set a vision and start my visual research. I use these on almost every project I start. Usually, it takes the form of an image dump in Illustrator or a board in Pinterest.
These are some techniques I use to review an interface design when there is too much going on. 1. Can I remove it? 2. Can I organise it better? 3. Can I hide it (in a menu, behind a button etc)? Can I displace it (only visible on desktop not mobile)?
The following are a selection of Heuristics I like to call upon to evaluate the effectiveness of a design.
An online tool I use to evaluate a design prefilled with Nielsens Heuristics, Shneidermans 8 golden rules and Togs first principles of design. Good for reporting to clients on existing projects.
Findable, Accessible, Clear, Communicative, Useful, Credible, Controllable, Valuable, Learnable, Delightful.
LemErs - Learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, satisfaction.
Measured by utility: does it do what I need it to do? Usable: Am I able to accomplish the task? Desirable: I like using it? Emotional: I have a good feeling about this brand or product?
This is a method of comparing two versions of a design against each other to determine which one performs better.
I have never had the opportunity to do testing using eye-tracking technology. If you're a company or agency that uses this technology hire me!