Process

My experience and expectations around the UX process
Lean UX Diagram

Lean UX

I ascribe to the Lean UX methodology. Lean UX prescribes that companies get feedback from their users frequently and early in their development pipeline to maximize development spend building products the users need. To do this, the design team does research, prepares rapid prototypes, gathers feedback, and iterates on the designs until all stakeholders are satisfied with the desired solution to the user's problem statement. Only then is the design passed off to the development teams to build by Product and UX, who have partnered together to bring the solution to market. The UX team consults the development teams on expected functionality, advises and prepares visual elements, and the dev teams bring the designs to life with data, logic, and testing.

Research

User Story

Requirements gathering is the first step in a Lean UX flow. Typically this may come from the Product Owner who has a specific user story they are crafting to solve a particular user problem they have received feedback regarding. At this point, the user story is a hypothesis of what should be done so that a specific user type (persona) can perform a particular task to accomplish the desired outcome. The Product Owner will provide a backstory about the problem statement's scope and breadth, source, and business value.

Persona Identification

Personas are generalizations about user types that interact with your product. These are often defined by job titles, roles, or shared responsibilities that give that particular user type reason to interact with your product. Identifying these personas early and reusing them often will give your developers and Product Owners a clearer picture about whom they are building these products for and why.

User Flows

Personas attempting to achieve the desired outcome of the user story will try to do so in perhaps various ways. Mapping out the exact flows we expect the user to take is a beneficial communication tool to get everyone on the same page. It's also essential to map out all of the not-so-happy paths that a user might take to ensure all of the testings of edge cases are covered appropriately.

Journey Maps

Journey Maps help analyze the users' emotional and psychological state at different points along existing user flows. I typically construct with these in collaboration with our users. This activity helps to create empathy for our users, identify friction with our product, and give everyone a broader perspective of our products' strengths and shortcomings.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming sessions help bring stakeholders, end-users, and UX Designers to the same table to formulate a solution. This activity can be done virtually with whiteboarding tools, spatially with VR conferencing tools, or even in person should the opportunity arise (like at user conferences). These sessions enrich everyone involved and bring more information to the table like external factors, workflow patterns, user behaviors and thought patterns, and physical limitations to feed into better design thinking and problem-solving.

Prototyping

A complete picture of the customer's problem will form after the research completes. At this point, the design team is ready to tackle the problem head-on. Designers can work through various techniques but generally start with a sketch of some kind with a rough idea of a plausible design. For XR, it's crucial to explore our designs as quickly as possible in a spatial setting. This process can involve paper prototypes or a more robust VR version like those built with Microsoft Maquette, Masterpiece VR, or Tvori.

Once stakeholders and users validate the initial spatial concept, UX Designers like myself can explore a more robust prototype if time allows, including full interactivity using a tool like Dreams or Metavrse. I may use Unity to get designs closer to what the developers will be using in our workflow.

Design reviews occur frequently during this phase to ensure quality is upheld and all edge cases are accounted for.

User Testing

I have helped multiple companies construct a Customer Advisory Council composed of high-performing users passionate about making your product as good as it can be for their ultimate benefit. These users dedicate time to helping our UX department user test every feature we attempt to bring to market, offer candid feedback, and help shape the product's future. The result of these partnerships with our users is a strong bond that solidifies their loyalty to our brand because they share ownership in the products' evolution.

Moderated user tests are typically conducted virtually through conferencing software or even spatially when feedback on VR prototypes is required. These tests allow testers to have open and direct communication with the users and provide the ability to record these tests for analysis afterward.

Attendees of moderated user tests benefit significantly by hearing customer feedback firsthand. I encourage the entire UX team, stakeholders, and dev teams to either participate as observers or review the recordings after the test. It can be incredibly motivating to all involved because it makes user champions of the whole team, forcing user-centered design thinking into your organization.

While unmoderated user tests benefit from automatic dispersion, I've found the feedback on these to be primarily quantitative in nature and not as informative as moderated tests which are my preference.

Advising & Pitching

Product Owners are informed of the recommended design and solution once user testing is complete. If the Product Owner has attended all of the user tests, a formal recommendation is typically not necessary. However, times will arise when executives must make a significant investment to accommodate the user's needs. At this point, I provide a formal recommendation to the appropriate stakeholders backed by all of the qualitative and quantitative data analysis received during user tests.

When a new product is under development, I participate in a pitch session to inform stakeholders and clients of possibilities. Similarly, this includes all of the qualitative and quantitative data analysis received during user tests. Additionally, stakeholders and clients test the pitch project prototype to catch the desired product's vision. Product Owners will also provide business value, success metrics to be monitored, approximate cost and timeline estimates included with the pitch. I have given several of these to prospects and executives to great success.

Agile Development

A UX team member is embedded throughout the scrum process. Typically I am involved in grooming and pre-grooming activities to answer questions on all UX-related features. Throughout the development process, I am also available as a resource to the developers to provide assets, guidance, and reviews along the way. Formal UX and Product reviews are typically part of the Definition of Done with the teams I work alongside to ensure quality is delivered. UX is also present at all Sprint Reviews to answer any questions stakeholders have about designs provided and gather feedback. I have experience managing Jira boards, Trello boards, and AHA! boards alongside Product to ensure workflow progresses.

I also facilitate cross-department collaboration at Cross Team UX Planning meetings with UX and Product Owners (POs) and Cross Team UX Pregrooming with UX, POs and Dev Leads. These meetings bolster cross-department communication and awareness and make for fewer meetings when serving a large organization.