A product designer helps figure out what a product should do and designs experiences and technology to successfully connect that with business goals and outcomes.
I have experience with a broad set of tools and processes to help understand stakeholder needs and contexts, generate insights and ideas, refine those ideas based on feedback, and implement the designed experience.
Develop a fuller understanding of the problem domain through research. This can involve many different tools including team discussion, interviews with users or subject matter experts, in-situation observation of user behavior, surveys, user experience mapping exercises, etc. It’s important to collaborate with product and engineering to form a collective understanding of the problem, align on any research insights and find a strategy for product success that everyone can support. Ideally this process produces clearly defined goals and strategies with agreed ways to measure success.
Test your hypotheses by gathering data and user feedback to validate or invalidate them. Take all the ideas that were generated during discovery and create something you can use to present them to users and get feedback. Start with a wide range of ideas initially, perhaps even including bad ideas, to gain insight into user reactions and why some things work better than others. Iteratively develop concepts from sketch or wireframe to more and more developed visual design mockups, prototypes or animations, getting feedback on each iteration and incorporating it into the next.
Create what engineering needs to build it. Regular conversation is an essential communication tool during this phase. The amount of documentation needed varies with the size and structure of the team. Ideally much is already communicated in a living style guide that is shared with engineering. Update the style guide with any new interface patterns or components and generate any screen-ready assets. Produce screen-ready graphic assets and create or update any related support content.
Make sure it does what it’s supposed to, then ship to users and observe the results. Ideally new features can be deployed to a subset of users and behavior can be quantitatively measured and compared to users without the change to understand if/how user behavior is effected. Collaborate with the team to evaluate the effectiveness of the change and next steps, potentially scheduling another iteration on the feature.
The most successful brands, companies and products excel at finding a workable balance between 3 sets of opposing goals; the business, the technology, and the user.
These goals always exist in hierarchies with other goals.
Uncovering the How? and Why? behind goals illuminates their structure and helps identify potential strategies for making everyone successful.
It’s much easier for us to predict the behaviors of people we know. Talking to users, understanding and mapping their experiences is a great way to help us better understand their desires and predict their behavior. When we understand their goals in the context of their experience, we’re better able to help them reach those goals.
I'm in the process of adding a few other things that influence my design thinking. Here's what I've got so far.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Design is knowing which ones to keep.” - Scott Adams
“You can't have a breakthrough without blockage. Frustration is a natural, normal part of the creative process.”