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When change is constant: A spiral UX design model

From left to right (process), top to bottom (organization). Now, it’s a circle for process and a network for organization.

“The representation of an actual UX design process with a design model probably presents an overly simplified view of the process. However, the design model serves a descriptive function. Additionally, having an abstract representation of the design process in the form of a design model highlights the essential forces driving the process of UX design: simultaneous changes in the problem and solution spaces. In this article, I’ve proposed a possible adaptation of the spiral model for a UX design process. By incorporating continuous changes to our understanding of the problem space into a systematic investigation of the solution space, we can synchronize these self-reinforcing forces and generate high-quality UX designs. However, several important aspects of the UX design process require further discussion of empirical evidence and feedback – for instance, adapting this model to agile software development.”

(Hang Guo ~ UXmatters)

Replacing “requirements gathering” with something that works

Requirements are these wet pieces of bath soap you can’t get a strong hold on.

“The replacement activities of creating hypotheses, conducting research, creating scenarios, and running critiques will take more time. A lot more time. How do we do that when our schedules are already full? We have to put it into context with the rest of the project. How much time will we save by getting closer to a great design faster? How much time will we get back because everyone is on the same page about why we’re doing what we’re doing? We spread these activities evenly throughout the project, instead of a small box upfront. They make practically every other box in the project chart better and faster. In a weird twist of project physics, we end up saving time by spending time. Most importantly, we end up with a design that uses real requirements to create a great experience. That’s what we were brought in to do in the first place.”

(Jared Spool ~ User Interface Engineering)

Softer side of change

Design thinking representing the soft side? The human side.

“Businesses have always looked at ways to improve, to either save cost or improve operating performance. The drive for improvement is even greater today due to the current economic climate we find ourselves in. Traditional buzz words such as process re-engineering and process improvement are becoming part of every day language once again, as organisations try to become leaner. The challenge faced by organisations when applying these improvement techniques is that the world we find ourselves in today is very different to when these approaches were first defined. Organisations are no longer stand alone entities, most are now part of a large ecosystem with complex interdependencies, spread in some cases across the globe.”

(Mike Clark ~ Bridging the Gap)

Design process is a myth

Just a set of steps a.k.a. process in ‘hinzeit’.

“Typically, when a product design falls flat, people want to insert a design process to fix the bad design. However (…), a one-size-fits-all design process does not exist. Don’t force a process on a design team that everyone must follow. Every designer has their own unique way of solving design problems. Bad product design is fixed by hiring good designers not by adopting a better design process.”

(Marc Hemeon a.k.a. @hemeon ~ Medium Design/UX)

What does a user-centered design process look like?

Reading the high-level phases, thought it was rather circular, iterative and incremental than linear.”

“What really differentiates user-centered design from a more traditional waterfall model of software design is the user feedback loop, which informs each phase of the project. This feedback loop is established through the use of a range of techniques that have become the staple for UX Designers. There are a ton of them, and knowing when to use which techniques during which phase of a project comes with experience. Personally, I find experimenting with new techniques and tweaking old favorites is part of the fun of being a UX Designer.”

(Matthew Magain a.k.a. @mattymcg ~ UX mastery)

Beyond Wireframing: The Real-Life UX Design Process

Following the UCD process in any form is no guarantee for success. No process is.

“We all know basic tenets of user-centered design. We recognize different research methods, the prototyping stage, as well as the process of documenting techniques in our rich methodological environment. The question you probably often ask yourself, though, is how it all works in practice?”

(Marcin Treder ~ Smashing Magazine)