I've used this short presentation to introduce my UX process
to new clients, employers and design teams
A well-designed experience follows a series of steps, each providing a foundation for the one that comes after it. The more time and resources go into each stage, the more confident we can be with future steps. Any cut corners, especially early in the project, will lead to design decisions based on assumptions, rather than understanding.
There are plenty of user research methods out there, and I tend to start with in-person observation and interviews, so we can determine what we should be looking for when we start with the quantitative studies later on.
Once we've observed a few hours of actions and intentions, we start bundling similar actions into categories, until we've found common needs that similar users share.
Then it's on to the personas. We only create these if we're confident we've done enough research to really understand our users' needs, goals and concerns.
Once we understand who we're designing for and what they need, we write scenarios, each specifically crafted for one persona to reach one goal. These scenarios aren't concerned with how things happen; we'll get to that later.
Once the team's in agreement on the experience we want to deliver to our users, using the scenarios as our guide, we create user flows that easily translate into site maps.
And then each screen or page of the site map gets made into a wireframe.
Prototypes can be made from just about anything. I like to work with paper, but with a wireframing tool like Balsamiq, interactive PDFs can be exported and tested super quickly.
A good usability test starts with well-written tasks that give the user a goal, but lets them find the way on their own, and follow-up questions that start a conversation, rather than simply searching for a positive response to validate the design team's assumptions. The team should walk away knowing which features worked, which need improving, and why.
And finally, once we're certain we've found a design that satisfies our users' needs in a way that's usable and accessible, we can move on to the visual components. And if it's possible, there's nothing wrong with another round or two of testing with the visuals in place.