Our team tackles user interface design with a three-phased approach, with each step informing the subsequent aspects of the project to provide research-driven, measurable results.
There are some core tasks that we need to accomplish during the discovery phase:
To identify fully the business goals and functional requirements we would aim to interview a broad cross-section of project stakeholders. Within these interviews we would address some key areas:
A profile of the target user begins to emerge from the Stakeholder Interviews, but is inevitably accompanied by individual bias. We seek to paint an objective picture of the end users through independent research and interviews.
From the User Research we can develop the individual User Personas that the web project must serve. We will have identified and described their background, their preferences and the core business functions they need to perform.
We analyze available web metrics to identify particular user patterns and possible roadblocks that cause users to leave.
It naturally makes sense to evaluate the strengths and weakness of competitors to ensure that you are able to take a market-leading position through this project. Additionally we conduct analogous research amongst other industries to identify best-in-class solutions for relevant features.
The final step of the Discovery process involves the definition of success metrics to ensure that the business and user goals have been effectively achieved. The beauty of the digital medium is that it provides many opportunities for objective measurement.
Armed with the Discovery findings, our team can now begin to develop the component pieces of your design:
Based on a thorough understanding of user expectations it is possible to map out a logical structure for content, as well as an overall content strategy that supports the project objectives.
To separate and analyze function independent of the design we intentionally begin with wireframes to focus attention on the user’s ability to perform core tasks. The low-overhead process allows us to review and test numerous iterations prior to committing to a specific path.
At the other end of the spectrum from wireframes, we examine various graphic treatments in a deliberately broad-brush way. We will examine the various uses of typography, illustration and photography to communicate the appropriate message.
As both wireframes and art concepts become finalized we start to mockup deeper sections of the project to see how the themes can be extended.
As the final design theme begins to crystallize it becomes possible to develop a Style Guide to provide guidance to developers and other collaborators in the rationale and structure of the design.
Finally, as designs are completed, these additional steps are taken:
As the final validation stage for the design we recommend the development of clickable prototypes to test interaction techniques and cross-platform/cross-browser consistency. It is also important to note that this would not be “throw away” code, given that the same developers responsible for the prototypes would also implement the final website theme, and would create the prototypes with maximum reuse in mind. This should significantly impact the overall budget for the project.
While we will seek user and stakeholder feedback throughout the entire design process, the presence of clickable prototypes provides the opportunity to specifically study user interaction and provide final confirmation of the design approach.
Once final adjustments to the prototypes have been made we provide a final review of deliverables with stakeholders before handing off the Style Guide, prototypes and all other deliverables to the development team.