The Process of UX Design

CMPT 363

“Design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.”
— Brenda Laurel

What does a holistic user experience design process look like?

Topics to Explore

  1. Software Development Processes
  2. User Experience Design Processes
  3. Our Design Process (aka Toolkit)

What does a holistic user experience design process look like?

Software Development Processes

WaterFall Challenges

  • Software development as pure production
  • Knowing all required information upfront
  • Time estimates are extremely hard to make
  • Often entire project must be completed to fully test
  • Long feedback and development cycles

Agile Manifesto

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

With Agile we can combine iterative design with incremental development…

Lean Development (based on the Toyota Way)(1)

  • A mindset, or way of thinking, commitment to achieve a totally waste-free operation that’s focused on your customer’s success
  • It is achieved by simplifying and continuously improving all processes and relationships in an environment of trust, respect and full employee involvement
  • It is about people, simplicity, flow, visibility, partnerships and true value as perceived by the customer

(1): Source: David Hogg, High Performance Solutions, 2008

With Lean each Design (Decision) is Viewed as a Hypothesis

A hypothesis can be defined as an educated guess that then can be tested to be shown correct

Example Hypotheses (includes outcome & assumption)

  • We believe that our customers will find the “add to cart” button because it is highly visible
  • We believe that our customers will be able to complete the checkout process because it is very simple

Waterfall vs. Agile vs. Lean?

What does a holistic user experience design process look like?

User Experience Design Processes

Source: PeopleSoft

These look really detailed and appealing, but are they always practical?

These look more approachable, but do they give enough specifics?

What does a holistic user experience design process look like?

Our UX Design Process (aka Toolkit)

Our Process as a Toolkit (of Activities)

  • Discover & understand
  • Strategize & conceptualize
  • Visualize & prototype
  • Evaluate & refine

Discover & Understand

Discover & Understand

  • Affinity diagrams
  • Contextual inquiries
  • Empathy maps
  • Interviews
  • Job stories
  • Jobs to be Done
  • Personas
  • Proto-personas
  • Surveys
  • Task analysis
  • Five Ws and one H
  • The five whys
  • User stories

What is the difference between a user goal and a task?

User Goal vs. Task


  • Things users want or need to achieve
  • Tend to remain constant over time
  • System independent
  • Reaching a goal changes the state of the world

User Goal vs. Task


  • Must be performed to reach goals
  • Tend to change over time, often due to technology
  • System dependent
  • May require problem solving

Questions to Help Discover User Goals and Tasks

  • Why would they use the system (goals)?
  • What do they need to do to reach their goals (tasks)?
  • What are common problems encountered?
  • When would they use the system?
  • Where would they be using the system?

Example Task Analysis Tools

  • Task inventory (incl. frequency & importance)
  • Task frequency & importance matrix
  • Task sequences
  • Flowcharts

Task Importance & Frequency Matrix

Task List User Group #1 User Group #2 User Group #3
Task #1 High/Frequent High/Infrequent Low/Infrequent
Task #2 Never Low/Infrequent High/Frequent
Task #3 Low/Infrequent Never High/Infrequent
Task #4 Low/Infrequent Low/Infrequent Low/Infrequent

Organizing an Interface by Tasks

  • Important & frequent - higher visibility, fewer taps
  • Important & infrequent - higher visibility, more taps
  • Unimportant & frequent - lower visibility, fewer taps
  • Unimportant & infrequent - lower visibility, more taps

Strategize & Conceptualize

Strategize & Conceptualize

  • Conceptual models
  • Content strategy
  • Journey maps
  • Kano model
  • Problem statement
  • Product design principles
  • Product Reaction Cards
  • Seven stages of action
  • Usability/UX goals
  • Value Proposition
  • Valuing UX

Usability Goals - How it Works

  • Learnability (first-time users)
    • The product should be easy to learn
  • Efficiency (experienced users)
    • The product should be efficient to use
  • Memorability (casual users)
    • The product should be easy to remember
  • Error-resistance (all users)
    • The product should minimize usage errors

Defining Usability Goals

  • Common factors for consideration are
    • Frequency of use
    • Importance of task or need
    • Task structure (e.g. complexity, repetition)
    • Motivation/attitude
  • Assign a priority to each goal (e.g. 1-3)
    • Could be specifically measured, but overall usability assessment (e.g. SUS) is usually sufficient

UX Goals - How it Feels

Defining UX Goals with Product Reaction Cards

  • Select a set number of attributes (i.e. 4 to 8)
    • For each attribute, assign a priority and note reason
    • Consider visualizing results (e.g. word cloud)

Visualize & Prototype

Visualize & Prototype

  • Content inventory
  • Content prototyping
  • Design patterns
  • Task flow diagrams
  • Platform design principles
  • Responsive Web Design
  • Storyboards
  • Visual design principles
  • Wireframes

Content Prototyping

An approach where real content is utilized early on during a project for the creation of all prototypes

Evaluate & Refine

Evaluate & Refine

  • 5-Second test
  • Cognitive walkthrough
  • Heuristic review
  • Usability testing (informal and formal)

Measuring Usability Goals

  • Learnability (first-time users)
    • Can a new user complete a task?
  • Efficiency (experienced users)
    • How fast can a user complete a task?
  • Memorability (casual users)
    • How easy can a repeat user recall how to complete a task?
  • Error-resistance (all users)
    • How often does the software cause users to make an error?

Measuring UX Goals with Product Reaction Cards

  • Measuring
    • Reduce attributes to ≈ 60 to 80
    • Ask participants to select most relevant 10
    • Visualize the results (e.g. word cloud)


  • Software Development Processes
  • User Experience Design Processes
  • Our Design Process (aka Toolkit)

References and Suggested Books

  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk
  • About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann and David Cronin
  • Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug
  • UX Team of One by Leah Buley

Image Credits (for images without source URL or note)