When it comes to design at Orchard we have a fully collaborative and inclusive approach. Whether we’re improving an existing component, designing a new screen or designing a whole system there are 5 vital steps that we loop around in the process, including various job roles within Orchard as well as customers and partners.
First we must understand the problem that we are trying to solve; then come up with a clear definition of which steps need to be taken to solve this problem. This is then followed by some rough design sketches and ideas that are then converted into testable prototypes to help us convert our ideas across. These prototypes go through thorough testing and evaluation with relevant teams and clients, to make sure that the problem requirements have been met.
However, the design process doesn’t just stop there, we will carry on looping through the above steps as necessary until we have the ideal design. A design that solves the problem, is user friendly, provides a good experience and of course meets both the Orchard style guides and the Accessibility Standards, where we work to the WCAG AA standard and AAA where possible.
Every project we undertake is different (scope, timings, iterations and number of teams involved) so it is important to keep all of this in mind when working on any design.
For any problem to have a successful solution, we must first understand what the problem is. Depending on how big the project is, this can be done in many different ways. Most research include representatives from user groups, clients and insight from product owners and managers.
From these findings we can delve deeper into the problem using a range of different research techniques, including ethnographic and participatory research. These two different research methods enable us to not only listen to people’s problems but also make them think outside the box to create innovative suggestions for improving experience and usability. We use such techniques as fly-on-the-wall observations, contextual enquiry and “buy” a feature to narrow down the problem and get ready for the next stage.
Once we have a better understanding of the problem and some ideas of a possible solution, we need to create a way of clearly defining the acceptance criteria and what we need to meet. We do this by asking ourselves 5 simple questions;
This is often done working alongside the product team who provide knowledge and better understanding of the problem field and possible solutions.
When it comes to designing something, you may already have the perfect idea of how to solve the problem however, when you iterate and explore other solutions, a lot of the time you will find a new and better way to solve your initial problem or alternatively improve on your existing idea. At this stage it is also important to get feedback and a second set of eyes on the design, whether it’s colleagues, product team or clients.
At this stage, you can start seeing if the requirements that you have set out have been met, This is a great way to show the stakeholders your process and save cost on taking the idea further that doesn’t meet all the criteria and user needs. As well as verifying our designs with the product team and virtual UX team, which consists of developers and product managers who are fond of UX.
These designs can include anything from paper sketches, lo-fi designs or even sometimes high fidelity prototypes when solid ideas start to form.
Creating high fidelity prototypes can be time consuming over doing sketches or lo-fi designs however, the pay off for it is much greater. Prototypes help to make sure that the final designs you have created flow and make sense, thus aiding the work of others within the organisation.
High fidelity prototypes can help you clearly demonstrate the solution to the problem to a wide range of people; including the development team, the product team, architectural team and of course the stakeholders. You can use this to show the exact visuals of the solution and give the developers the basis of what you would like the design to look like as well as how it should flow and function, creating less mistakes when it comes to development and saving cost.
The benefits of creating high fidelity prototypes don’t just end there, they can then be used by the QA team to test whether the developed product has met all the set out requirements.
How we test and evaluate our designs can be done using a range of different methods, including think-aloud testing, heuristic review, critique and system usability scale. This can also be done with a range of different people, including just the UX team, virtual UX, product team and of course the clients.
The importance of testing the prototype is great, as this way we can confirm that we have met the stakeholder requirements, the customers like our solution and of course test the usability of it. Getting our design in front of people makes sure that we are designing for the right problems.
Of course the UX process doesn’t stop there, after tests have been run they need to be analysed and the results then need to be actioned upon. This is where the designer may jump to any part of the above process described above, to make any changes or amendments and keep iterating the designs until a solution is found that everyone is happy with, including the designer, the product team, the developers and the stakeholders.
At the final stage the design can be handed over to the developers and put into a sprint for them to work from, with visual and flow details.
Thanks for reading and look out for more posts from the UX Team in the future.