How to design the best possible, enjoyable, and meaningful experiences? — not alone. Good user experience design is something that results through teamwork and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. By involving different departments, customers and end-users, various perspectives can be incorporated. In addition, important questions can be identified which would otherwise not have been thought of. Generally, asking a lot of questions will help to navigate the entire design process and achieve profound results. Further, many iterative cycles and different types of tests should be included in the whole design process.
No solution should be solely built on assumptions. To design meaningful and usable solutions, it is important to question assumptions and apparent problems. Field work and research should stand at the beginning of every project to understand user behaviours, reveal needs and pain points and/or discover new opportunities. Going out in the field, observing and interviewing people is a first step to get important insights and answer first questions. The direct contact to clients and users will lead to a grounded starting point to base ideation processes on. If time is short and clients and users can’t directly be approached, I try to gather insights by making short semi-structured online interviews and send out basic surveys directly at the beginning.
Of course, ideas are already coming up at the very beginning of a project. Anyhow, it is important to first sort and evaluate the information that was gathered in research and fieldwork. These results will reveal core needs and problems, and help to identify the main leading questions. The involvement of different stakeholders in this phase expands the ideation space and leads to a wider range of ideas that sometimes seem crazy at first glance. Such ideas may not only address user needs but can additionally uncover further wishes and opportunities. Nevertheless, it is important to not lose the main questions out of sight, but to narrow down to 1-3 ideas that can be conceptualised and worked on.
While working on the concept and the final solution, I find it important not to start a sprint right away when the goal seems to appear on the horizon. Including iterative cycles in the design process and conducting tests along the way is crucial. Weak points can be quickly identified by analysing and testing intermediate results. The revision of certain steps then helps to avoid major errors and unnecessary, expensive corrections afterwards. The earlier tests are made, the better. It is not necessary to have fully functioning and appealing prototypes for testing early on. Even quick small test with simple paper wireframes can deliver valuable results. It depends mainly on the stage of the design process you are in and which functions or design elements are to be tested.