Ashley

Process

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Process is one of my favorite areas to work on for myself, teams, and companies. I always find myself gravitating to fixing process issues and getting excited to try new methods of working. I'm constantly evolving my process and pitching new ways of approaching projects, depending on what best suits who we're working for and what we're working towards.

Below is an outline of the process I follow, which stems from the Stanford design thinking process.

I believe design can change the world. And a good process is the means to getting there.

 My take on the Stanford d.school design thinking model.
 

Discover & Define

 

01 Empathize

Start with what we know about our users or research if we don't know our users. Can be in the form of user research, market research, or data science. Personas, journey maps, or surveys can be helpful here.

 

02 Define

Set the goals of the project based on user needs. Prioritize and scope the work in a design brief. Diagramming exercises can help visualize, communicate, and work together as a group to define the project. Project management, resource planning, and gantt charts are helpful tools to help organize myself and my team. Some useful exercises are the value proposition model, creating guiding design principles, and flow diagrams for your project.

 

03 Ideate

Brainstorming in the discovery portion of the project is so fun, especially as a group. Design thinking exercises can be great to encourage fresh, blue sky ideas from all members of a team. I love including engineering, business, marketing, or relevant stakeholders here to get buy-in on ideas early on and  hear their creative ideas. It can be good exposure to how the design process works for those unfamiliar with it. Lightning demos from the Google Ventures Design Sprint process is good for finding inspiration and calling out big ideas. Creating a North Star prototype can be retain some of the fresh visionary aspects from this phase. Competitive analyses and heuristic evaluations are helpful to learn how users might use and choose from others in the market.

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Develop & Deliver

 

04 Prototype

Choosing the right fidelity for where you're at and the most effective, efficient way to test is so much fun. Lo-fi prototypes like sketches, paper prototypes, or videos can be great to test concepts, albeit leaving some of the subject matter tested up to user imagination. Medium fidelity prototypes in the spectrum of wireframing limited to the user story can test the functionality in scope. Hi-fi prototypes in polished wires, visual design, or coded prototypes with a lot of functionality can test the project in scope of the entire website. It's fun to converge and work on this with the greater team, diverge and work solo to think deeply, and re-converge to get feedback from all stakeholders and hold design reviews. Socializing prototypes with product, engineers, business, marketing, etc. gives you such varied and valuable insights.

 

05 Test

Testing designs with the users is my most favorite part of the process and why I love the "U" part of "UX." Actually seeing what's working, or not (which is more fun), is so enlightening when you see your users mental models and true desires unfold. The days when you are surprised by what you didn't know and the product pivots are enlightening. In-person, lab, remote online, phone interviews are the usual ways I've tested or worked with researchers to test designs. Methodologies like usability, conceptual, card sorts, participatory design, tree sorts, surveys can all be helpful to test designs depending on the project's phase.

 

06 Iterate

The continuum of design is what makes UX fun and that there's always more to keep iterating on in a project. A design is never truly "final."

 
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Wanna learn more about me?

Get in touch at ashpfahler@gmail.com