The best ideas are always the simplest
My UX process aims to put users at the center of the website, product or service from the outset. Finding out who they are, where they are using it and what they are using it with and why.
Research, gather data and resources, analyse the data, design a prototype to test and test early. Repeat the process.
Ideally we should design in an agile way, taking methods and process from Design Thinking.
Empathise with users
This, in my opinion is the most vital part of the process. Gaining insights into why people will use the product, how they are using it and how to improve there experience.
Are you redesigning an existing product or experience? If so do live usability testing with real users straight away on the existing product. Find their goals, behaviours, pain points and mental models.
Resources: Running a usability test, Usability test script
Interviews and testing in the users environments.
Eyetracking & Screen Tracking
Recording users activities on your site and create reports and gain vital insights.
These can be used to gather some business goals, finding out early what makes the product profitable and what the business goals are. It can gave us a good grasp on what the users are using the product for. They know the product and business goals inside out.
Using software to ask users questions using surveys and on page questionnaires.
Detailed research into competitors and indirect competitors, how they have tackled similar problems, gained revenue streams and how they have gained competitive advantages.
Using UX software and in-depth analytics research I can gather data on where improvements need to be made.
Resource: Head analytics,Google analytics
Set the context, define the users goals, behaviours and look into how detail about who the user is and how they think.
“As a 'type of user' I 'want/can/am able to/need to/etc.'' so that 'some reason'.”
Useful Linksgov uk approach is very nice.
If you don't have a product to research with straight away, conduct user research on the idea, create a prototype or storyboard based on assumptions and start the process there. You can still conduct interviews, stakeholder interviews and competitive analysis and look into personas and user stories.
Define, analyse and iterate
Using the research I can find triggers, barriers and pain points, entry points and actions such as conversion access and exit. Find your users goals and motivations. To do this the best solution I have found is to involve the full team and split out the research into several sections depending on the product. Outlining all pain points, triggers and making sure everyone is on the same page as to what the problems are.
Affinity Diagramming & Card Sorting
Write all observations from the usability tests down on post-its and group into actions, triggers, pain points and barriers. Identify patterns.
Resource: Analyse the usability test
User Journey Maps
Map out the user journeys. Document the pain points and goals and behaviours.
Group user stories together to create themes and start to think of possible features.
Brain storming is great for idea generation. More details here
Write a full list of features, pages and sections that the product will need. Rate resources out of 10.
If you are planning improvements to an existing product then prioritise the improvements over a time period checking against technical feasibility, design feasibility, and impact on the user. If you are creating a new product rating features in order or importance to the user and getting a MVP out to test on is my preferred method.
After the analysis we should know more about what we need to create to allow the user to achieve their goals on the product. Next is planning these components and journeys out.
Design and Prototype
Once I have a firm set of problems to solve the next stage is planning out user flows, storyboarding, wireframing solutions and reworking/creating the information architecture. Once we have the solutions solved ( in our opinion ) it's time to create a prototype and re-test the solution with users to ensure our opinion is gratified and correct.
Extensive information architecture planning and scoping of the site or app structure and content, based on the resources and analysis.
For a more agile approach storyboard parts of the proposed journey. If we can, test this on users at this stage.
Detail user and interaction flows and creating test prototypes where applicable. Split the features up into manageable sections and create flow diagrams. If an agile approach is possible then build mock-ups in code or a prototype app and test early.
Wireframe as much of the site/app as we need to create a prototype that will demonstrate the user journey or as many processes as possible. Defining where content will live etc.
Development of a prototype to test on users.
This is where we ideally need to test on the users again. Completing previous steps as required and iterating.