Engineer driven organizations are immensely valuable as they are always striving to derive new technologies, to solve age old problems. What can be difficulty for those engineering-first cultures, that have their approaches go from business goals —> directly to engineering solutions, this tends to leave out truly understanding what the end product solutions are solving for.
This case study identifies how an organization in that dilemma, can shift its focus and become a design driven culture that examines the granule path to solving for true user experiences. The process detailed here is one of inclusion for all dedicated team members.
Shifting an organizations established culture is an undertaking that truly needs every team members input, understanding and buy in. A Product Design Process is in fact one of these shifts but with the goal of delivering the utmost end value for all involved. At first, it can be met with resistance, as it puts pause to the way a particular program is worked on. It will add time on the board and will ultimately hold everyone involved a bit more accountable.
Now every Product Design Process, may look a bit different from each other but the principles are the same: It’s a systematic series of steps that helps you to define, plan and produce a product you’ are building to delight your end users. It allows for a clear understanding of the user needs, the requirements that drive what the MLP will be, user case definitions and validation through iteration + testing.
• Understanding the true user needs
• Converting user needs into business goals
• Defining the value of a culture shift, in a non fiscal way
• Grounded in generative research
• Validate through iteration
After some initial discovery work, we landed on creating a Product Design Process map, which visually covers the ideal design process. This is a reference guide for the life cycle of a program or product to be followed, in order to bring a product from idea to ship..
A process map can help identify when a program or product has derailed and needs to navigate its way back onto the path of success. The reason this path is successful is because its a tried and true method, that lends to driving solutions. It also helps adjacent teams like product management, marketing, and engineering know exactly how to work with design.
• Ideation (Understanding customer issues and thinking about product strategy)
• Definition (Further defining the strategy and project requirements)
• Iteration (Prototyping and testing)
• Implementation (Fleshing out and refining the solution)
Through an irritative process, we landed on 9 steps that guide the teams through the following phases: Project Kickoff, Understand, Review, Ideate, Review, UI Design, Validate, Dev Handoff and Measure. At each segment of the process, there is a detailed description that breaks down this section and the tools on used to implement these concepts.
• Project Kickoff
• Review and Align
• Ideate and Explore
• UI Design
• Dev Hand-off
• Measure (Post Release)
Project kickoff meeting with the goal of shared understanding. This is a time to meet with stakeholders, product managers, engineers, etc.
During this meeting, discuss project goals, define success for the project, and understand business goals.
Also known as the discovery, or generative research phase, before you begin designing, it is integral to understand the user needs, wants, challenges, the business problem being solved, and any technology constraints.
Methodologies: User Interviews, Stakeholder Interviews, Creating Personas, Surveys, Baseline Metrics, Competitive Analysis, Task Analysis/Flows, Usability Metrics, Ethnographic Research, Use Cases andBusiness Requirements
Research has been conducted. Before you begin designing, it’s important to review the user research findings with product management, stakeholders, and engineering.
Alignment Frameworks: Research Review, Shared understanding of project scope, Use Cases, Product Requirements
The team is now aligned. It is now time for the design team to explore design solutions by brainstorming, sketching, whiteboarding, creating wireframes. It’s very important to include product management/other stakeholders. A co-design session always helps map out the workflow.
Design Methodologies /Activities: Sketch, Co design session with product manager, Feature list, Wireframes, Prototyping, Goal Directed task flow, Scenario Maps and Empathy Maps
It is now time to review some of the early concepts designed with users, product managers, stakeholders, and engineering. Are we headed in the right direction?
Alignment Frameworks: Usability Testing, Meeting with Stakeholders, Cognitive Walkthrough
A round of user research has been conducted. The product designers on the team have reviewed the designs with Product management. The team is happy with the overall design direction. It is now time to begin the visual design phase. The design direction should be informed by user feedback, and an understanding of the business needs.
Design Methodologies /Activities: High Fidelity Design with Color, Annotations, Prototyping and Prototype Interactivity
Also know as the evaluative research, or testing phase, before the final design is reviewed with PM’s and before the assets are delivered to devs, it’s important to conduct user testing on the visual design.
How can we improve our design even more?
Are designs visually appealing?
Will the user be able to achieve their goals efficiently?
Alignment Frameworks: Usability Testing, Meeting with Stakeholders and Cognitive Walkthrough
The design handoff is a point in the product development process where developers implement the finished design. In order for a handoff to be successful, a good designer-developer collaboration is vital.
Handoff Tools: Sticker Sheet, Prototype with Annotations, Style Guide, Zeplin, Red Lines and Prototype Interactivity
It’s important to measure the design after release. Was the design successful? Metrics in simple terms is the quantifiable goals for your project. It can be measured by both the quantitative data in logs and the qualitative result from the user research.
Success Metrics: Surveys, Web Analytics and Time on Task
Change is hard, approaching and challenging an organizations culture is going to be met with resistance. So give yourself breathing room and milestones to work towards that will highlight even marginal wins. When something is the established process is not working, pivot. No one Product Design Process will fit every single mold.
We can’t follow all our process maps perfectly. But the clarity that they’ve created is like oil in a motor, helping things run smoothly at a fast clip. A little goes a long way. A big thank you to Shivam Vora, (Product Design Lead & UX Research) whom helped with the shaping and execution of this vision.