User experience (UX) design focuses on the interaction between real human users and everyday products and services. Strong UX design, a process that is well-documented and proven successful, balances usability and functionality to yield the highest user satisfaction while successfully meeting business objectives. With deep experience delivering user-centered solutions, Halfaker, an SAIC company, has evolved our UX process and knows how best to maximize value for both end users and solution owners.
Read on to learn how Halfaker takes UX design from good to great with key enhancements in each step of the process.
Step 1: Define the problem
|Understand the problem that's been provided by stakeholders or clients before designing possible solutions
|Urge the team to challenge the problem definition in a safe space, increasing the accuracy of the problem statement while creating a sense of ownership for the entire team, not just the stakeholders
|Review existing analytics data to learn about current user behavior, unmet needs, and stakeholders' views to define benchmark usability
|Set up live observation sessions to view user challenges in real-time, reaching for greater empathy and understanding for actual user experiences instead of relying on stakeholder perspectives or raw data alone
|Establish metrics for success early on
|Evolve metrics for success as the problem statement unfolds to ensure success is measured accurately over time
Key value delivered: Great teams save time, money, and resources, drastically decreasing downstream course correction by designing from a place of empathy and articulating the right solution from the start.
Step 2: Ideate a solution
|Encourage the team to brainstorm feasible solutions that meet stakeholder requirements for budget, timeline, and other considerations
|Avoid putting boundaries on ideas; foster a brainstorming environment with no constraints
|Continue to work with the product owner and stakeholders to generate ideas
|Involve the entire team at the outset to expand and challenge a solution to the problem definition
Key value delivered: Great teams maximize the potential for innovative solutions by suspending typical development constraints such as technology, cost, and time; the unrestricted creativity that results can power inventive ways to meet stakeholder requirements within budget and schedule bounds that might otherwise have gone undiscovered.
Step 3: Prototype a design
|Cultivate and expound on practical solution concepts in small groups
|Review a variety of solution concepts with the entire team to articulate what elements do and don't work
|Employ rapid prototyping tools to generate variances of the practical prototype chosen for solutioning
|Employ rapid prototyping tools to design multiple prototypes for solution, then get user feedback to shape direction for the final design
Key value delivered: Great teams can shape an ideal design before any costs are incurred by prototyping multiple options and using real-time user feedback to determine the best solution; this ensures that costlier high-fidelity work in later iterations is spent on the best-fit option only
Step 4: Test and learn
|Organize testing sessions, even if it means relying on users from within the organization, such as software testers and developers
|Onboard real users when testing instead of using stand-ins or proxies to mitigate the risk of employing biased testers
|Conduct user testing to ensure the solution meets business and stakeholder requirements
|Conduct several iterations of real user testing to capture live feedback and make corrective measures to ensure the solution meets user needs
|Ask users to provide detailed feedback and follow up with sentiment questions
|Observe user behavior and then ask users how they feel. Real-time observations are more valuable and allow designers to make real-time adjustments on the fly
Key value delivered: Great teams uncover 80-85% of usability problems by conducting multiple rounds of testing with just five real users; testers from the target demographic bring no preconceived or institutional knowledge, so their behavior reveals more about the challenges your product is intended to address.
Step 5: Design and develop
|Send high-fidelity mock-ups with detailed specifications to development team once the design team completes its final prototype
|Integrate designers and developers throughout the process, and encourage them to work closely together to ensure designs are translated accurately into code
|Communicate issues found during development back to the design team to allow for necessary adjustments before proceeding
|Encourage designers and developers to collaborate on dynamic interactions, animations, and responsive break points while in the browser, making adjustments in real-time until they are just right
Key value delivered: Great teams spend less time doing rework by employing agile design and development to facilitate real-time adjustments; they incorporate end user feedback in an iterative fashion, resulting in higher-quality products and features delivered faster.
Step 6: Launch, monitor, and measure
|Launch and watch the product's performance closely in the wild, keeping an eye out for red flags
|Actively engage in user data collection, evaluating quantitative and qualitative data post-launch to refine and optimize the design
|Deploy surveys to get additional context on user behavior and unmet needs
|Conduct feedback surveys, A/B and multivariate testing, and collect and review web analytics of what actions users take to craft a more holistic story of user behavior and make adjustments if KPIs are not being met
Key value delivered: Great teams uncover opportunities for optimization and refinement by using qualitative and quantitative insights to improve applications, resulting in a continuously evolving product that new users want to engage with and that existing users want to keep using.