The UX design process explained step-by-step

Read here how to successfully approach the UX design process,

The UX design process explained step-by-step

How to define the creative process of UX design? In short this is the process that leads from an idea to a live product. However this process is often never the same.

To me the UX design process is a creative way to solve problems. Hence I don’t like a one-size-fits-all approach. Each project is different and also every team I work with is different, combining diverse needs and expertise.

At the same time, having a default process to reply upon is a great way to kick off and avoid the “blank page syndrome”. A tried and tested methodology is also useful when you get stuck or to check you’re not forgetting something.

In this post I share with you the UX design process I use more often. It helps me break down big questions and prioritize the right steps at the right time. The process I want to share today is called the double diamond process.

To help you visualize how this project can be used, we’ll use a design from a project I already worked at.

You’ve probably already seen this picture. That’s the double diamond process. While often seen as a UX design process, I think it’s actually a product building process that any team can use. When you break it down, this process is not different from the Lean Startup approach.

So let’s have a look at how it works!

First step - Discover

The first step is to go broad and explore the problem you want to tackle. This is the “Discover” phase.

What you want to do in this phase is to:

  • understand the users and their problems.
  • have a clear picture of the business need and how a solution translates into value for the company.
  • have a look around at what the competitors are doing.

Before you move on, make sure you ask yourself what kind of data you need to collect. There’s both qualitative data and quantitative data you can collect. 

For your UX research, you want to start collecting qualitative data. If there’s already an existing product, you can collect quantitative data on how the current product is performing.

Examples of quantitative data to collect are: how’s the current product converting? What’s the average amount of days users use the app before churning?

In this phase you’ll start with user research. You’ll build your persona, map their problem and job to be done (JTBD).

Example of a Customer Journey Map

Phase two - Define

In this phase you want to narrow down and decide what your team will work on. This the “Define” phase. Here you define and summarize your findings from the business needs, competitive analysis and user research.

Now that you’ve done all this, you decide and prioritize what your team is going to work on. This phase requires the collaboration of all the people involved. Product owners, developers, marketeers etc. It may be useful to agree on a working rhythm that you’ll use also in the next steps of the process.

Don’t forget to start tracking the result of your findings as well as your decision process. You can do it on Miro, Asana, Trello etc. I see that easier tools like Miro or Trello work best when the team is small or you work alone, while more complex tools are better for projects with large teams involved.

Once you define the high-level tasks, it’s also handy to start “t shirt-sizing” them. Tshirt-sizing is the techie way to estimate how much time each task will take you, using t shirt sizes: XL, L, M, S.

Phase three - Develop

Now that you’ve defined what to do and where to start with it’s time to go wide again. In the Develop phase you think of solutions to the problem you identified.

Before jumping into creating a prototype, it will save you a lot of time to first collect your ideas on paper. It’s easier to first put ideas on paper and to find alignment with the team in this phase. You don’t want to spend time redoing work once it’s pixel-perfect!

That’s usually when sketching comes in. Exercises like the crazy-8 can help the whole team brainstorm and pick the solution they want to focus on. If you’re alone, you can still create different versions of your idea before moving on.

Phase 4 - Deliver

Before the launch, let’s go narrow again and define the solution. In this phase - Deliver - you validate the final deliverable before it’s sent to production.

This phase requires you to test your solution idea. There’s a couple of ways you can go about it. You can collect feedback on the sketch you created. People will give you feedback on one or multiple ideas you present them. Or you can pick one solution, turn it into a prototype or even implement it and then test its usability. You can of course also combine both methods.

Based on user feedback you’ll refine and adjust your design. In this phase you also want to collect feedback from the rest of the team to better understand how your design will be implemented in the rest of the product.

Phase 5 - Test and iterate

The double diamond usually stops with the deliverable. But now that your solution has been launched, the product is still far from final. So the double diamond process has been improved to add a third part to it: test and iterate.

The triple diamond approach has been made popular by Zendesk.

You have tested your idea before developing. But keep in mind that real-life validation is always different. The learnings you collect from real use of the product will inevitably reveal things you haven’t thought of. 

Unfortunately, 75-95% of new products fail after the launch.

To make your product a success, keep testing and iterating after the launch.

Examples of tests you can run are:

  • Usability testing - how easy is it for users to use your product?
  • A/B testing - what version of the product works best?
  • Elimination testing - do users need everything you’ve built?

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