UX Guide for Design

Stained glass skylight at the McGill University Faculty Club.

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In this post, I will focus on the design process. This is the first in a series regarding the entire process and how organizations can improve their likelihood of creating and capturing value by infusing their process with moderated research. Specifically, I will focus on creating and capturing value, how understanding leads to insights, and overview of the five phases and tips to keeping the user at the center.

Creating & Capturing Value

Our belief is that design is about maximizing value – for customers and for businesses.  To maximize value, it is imperative that organizations and designers understand two fundamental things. First, design is more than look and feel, it’s the entire experience and second, moderated research must be a part of the design process.

When we talk about design we are talking about a whole system, not just the “look and feel.” We take a holistic approach to make sure our designs address the context in which a product or service will exist, as well as physical design.

To increase the probability of success, design teams need to be intentional about presenting value to a customer or user, as well as the business organization will capture value in return. For example, Pets.com was able to create value for customers by shipping pet food directly to the customer’s door. The value to the customer was reducing the friction points around going to the store, carrying a bag from the store to the car, into the house, and so on. However, the value the organization could capture was not large enough for to stay in business. Pets.com went to live on farm where our kids believe that plucky dot com is very happy.

Through our series of posts and deep dives into each phase, we will explore how your team can  leverage design to create and capture value by better understanding:

  • the value levers
  • opportunities
  • and constraints that exist for businesses and customers.

Understanding Leads to Insights

As the Handrail team says, “a better user experience begins with understanding.” Leveraging a good design process, as outlined in our UX Guide it is a critical tool to use to talk with your stakeholders throughout the process to get to insights.

An Overview of Five Phases

Our design model, or UX Guide, has five distinct phases. In future posts, we’ll explore each phase of the process, along with the intent, research objectives, and example techniques. These are not meant to be an exhaustive list, but something that can help with your own design project wayfinding. And serve as inspiration for gathering feedback throughout the process.

UX Guide for Design

Keeping Users at The Center of User-Centered Design

While variations of user-centered design frameworks are gaining in popularity and adoption, many organizations are skipping critical research along the way. We believe that research, especially moderated research, needs to be utilized at every phase of the design process.

Good moderated research helps answer the whys that compliment the whats. The whats are quantitative measures that explain what happened, while the whys are qualitative, or “little data.” The data in the form of stories and metaphors that helps explain the reasons behind the actions something is happening.

Another benefit of moderated research is that it builds empathy and help provide your design teams with the customer’s vantage point. What do things look like from your customer’s perspective? What’s their mental model? What do your users need? When your solution meets their needs and meets business goals, you’re hitting the bull’s eye of your design targets.

While it never guarantees success, embracing and practicing moderated research at each phase of design will help reduce the risk of failing.

Key Takeaways

  • Design is how the whole system and experience works, not just the look and feel
  • Leverage user-centered design to improve the ways your products and services create and capture value.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of moderated research

Next Steps

  • Check out Handrail’s UX Guide for more resources to help with your Design Challenge
  • Stay tuned for our post next week regarding Challenge Phase. The Challenge Phase is critical to framing your project and helping you and your team increase your probability of design success.

About Handrail

We built Handrail to help teams collaborate throughout the entire user research process. Plan, collect, analyze, store, and share your research all in one location. Sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

Matt Arnold

Matt is a researcher and product specialist at Handrail, Inc. He is passionate about human-centered design and helping teams do more effective research. Matt has led strategy and design work for early and late stage startups, as well as some of the country’s most recognized brands.

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