User Experience Design
We focus on listening deeply and then creating tangible artifacts that define a successful project. The design approach we use and artifacts we create include:
- Discovery & Definition
Every project starts with discovery. Discovery is a process of knowledge transfer between you (the client) and us (your new design team). We work with you during this phase to define your goals and requirements. It’s also a good time to learn about your users’ needs via persona and scenario workshops. Goals, requirements, platform goals and user needs inform us as to the scope of your project. This information, combined with your budgetary and scheduling constraints, allow us to create a followup proposal that includes dates, deliverables, and estimates for the user experience design portion of the project.
- Personas & Scenarios
We work with our clients to identify, define, and draw a human face for all of product’s major user types (known as personas). Based on these personas, we define the major tasks the product seeks to enable by telling high level stories about those tasks (known in this context as scenarios).
- Information Architecture
Software is made up of pixels and code, and the process of building software involves imbuing these assets with a great deal of systematic organization. Software development may be an inherently organized process, but human brains and machines organize information differently from each other. Real people need familiar concepts, words, images and icons to be able to use software effectively. Users do best when given a coherent and consistent system of navigation and grouping of functions within an application.
In UX terms, this coherent wayfaring system is known as information architecture (and one common representation of information architecture is sometimes called an app map). Drawing up navigational schema into information architecture diagrams helps clarify how functionality will be grouped, and how users will find and access functions before a single screen is designed. Creating this coherent system first ensures there is a unified and scalable structure that will then provide an underpinning for the entire application.
Wireframes show how the widgets and words, navigation, and interactions will come together to compose your application. This phase of the project is usually the longest and produces the files that will guide the development team in building your product.
Our “wireframes” are somewhat unique. Their high fidelity makes them appear to be production ready comps, but our process for creating them allows for rapid iteration, as fast as you’d expect with a much lower level of fidelity.
This is what makes it possible for us to produce traditional deliverables while keeping pace with Agile and Lean development schedules. Rather than going through multiple rounds of design at multiple levels of fidelity, we produce production ready comps from the start, and rapidly iterate them based on stakeholder and user feedback.
- Visual Design GUI Kits
GUI kits define the colors, type, layout and overall appearance that will provide the visual skin for your product. We are careful to align the visual design with your branding, as well as your users’ aesthetic expectations, as revealed through persona and scenario workshops.
We produce GUI Kits in two formats, first a Photoshop GUI kit will become the basis for production graphics in your product implementation. Then, based on the Photoshop GUI kit, we quickly produce an Omnigraffle GUI kit which gives us a stencil for rapid production of high fidelity wireframes (or call them comps if you prefer).
Some elements of the GUI kit are designed in parallel with comps as application specific needs are revealed through the design process. However, most elements can be anticipated as common elements reused by many types of applications.
- Research Reports
Can users efficiently use your application today? Can they use the new designs we have created more effectively? User testing is the simplest way to find out.
If you just need a usability review of your current application, a heuristic evaluation might be your most cost effective option. These evaluations examining your site based on established criteria seeking major usability flaws and making recommendations for rapid design improvements.
We provide a variety of research and testing methods, and work with our clients to customize research activities based on the needs of each project.
By utilizing a combination of quantitative and qualitative user testing and usability research, we can validate design decisions as well as uncover product design flaws. Our reports provide specific recommendations about design directions to pursue in order to improve your product’s ability to meet its users’ needs.