Product, Experience, and Service Design through User-Centered Design (UCD)
We Are UX Specialists
We work with startups, agencies, and companies of any size and location.
We’re available for short-term projects, long-term projects, and periodic or ongoing UX consulting.
We have in-house project management. If you have teams and agencies you love, we work efficiently and seamlessly with your staff, outsourced teams, or other agencies.
UX design thinking is about problem solving.
First, you have to find the right problems to solve for the right audiences. Iterating on ideas, keeping the user in mind and heart, and testing help us land on the best solution.
Come to us with your business and customer issues. We’ll design solutions.
User-Centered Design (UCD) is a formalized process. Not every project has time or budget to conduct all of the tasks. Sometimes we have to cut this short. But where we can, we prefer to walk through every step of UCD.
If UCD is new to you, here are some of the key tasks and deliverables.
If you don’t already have a document with formal requirements, features, limitations, etc… we will want to create one with you.
Goals/benefits: Get everybody on the same page about what is this project, what phases or stages does it have, what are priorities. What is this thing and what does it do?
User Research & Interviews
Strong and meaningful UX research starts with asking the right people the right questions. We’ll conduct phone interviews with current or potential customers to learn more about their habits, needs, motivations, etc…
Goals/benefits: Let’s dispel and update the pre-conceived notions your departments may have about users. Getting to know customers better means real user-centered design (rather than assuming what they might want). Many startups and companies build what the company wants… and then are surprised later that customers really don’t want it (even when Marketing said they will).
After user interviews, we create archetypal customers based on what we learned. These are then the “real people” the business should focus on every time they are considering features or designs.
Goals/benefits: Get everybody on the same page about who customers truly are. What motivates them? What are they likely to do? What are they unlikely to do or change? Forces us to be more honest with ourselves about realistic customer behavior.
Customer Journey Map
This takes a look at the steps a customer is currently taking, how they feel about it, and where we have opportunities to make improvements or delight them.
Goals/benefits: Get everybody on the same page about the problems and pain points customers face now. Without suggesting exact solutions, where can we make changes and improvements? Where does this product or service fit into the customer’s process?
Competitive Research & Auditing Your Current Product/Service
We look at the website, apps, and/or products from competitors or companies doing anything similar. If your product or service already exists, we will analyze that and provide a UX Optimization Report.
Goals/benefits: Familiarizes us with the industry and competitive landscape. Helps us see sources of design inspiration as well as poor design we’d want to avoid.
Goals/benefits: Having placeholder content (text, videos, images, etc…), real content, or a content plan helps us know what type of information might be presented on a particular screen and how much room to leave for it.
Information Architecture: Research
Before we propose how pages and sections might be organized, we can research with potential customers. One key exercise is called “card sorting.”
Goals/benefits: Card Sorting asks research participants to take all of the pages and sections the system might show them and organize them based on what feels easiest for them to use. Seeing people organize things similarly clues us into how people perceive the system.
Information Architecture: Sitemap/Hierarchy
Website and app projects require that we understand content and features. We then propose a hierarchy for how pages or sections would be organized.
Goals/benefits: Excellent Information Architecture is the key to making it easy for users to understand where they can go and getting them there.
Information Architecture: Testing
One key exercise to test our proposed hierarchy is “tree testing.” If testing shows something isn’t working for users, the hierarchy will be redesigned (and should be tested again).
Goals/benefits: Tree Testing asks participants to find certain pages, sections, or activities based on a proposed structure. We can see if people easily find things in the right places or if they get confused or lost.
Content Strategy, Copy Writing, and Editing
If you do not have a professional writer, we can provide ours. A copy writer writes all the text seen on the site, from buttons to headlines to other information.
Goals/benefits: In addition to determining the “voice” of the company or product, a copy writer can write every word on the site in that voice. What you say to customers and how you say it are an important part of the user experience.
Goals/benefits: Flow charts help us and developers understand the steps and paths users can take around the system.
Interaction Design (IxD)
This is where we design the product. We show layouts, processes and flows, options, and errors. We typically work in “medium fidelity” (not yet visually designed). Typical deliverables are wireframes and clickable, interactive prototypes.
Goals/benefits: A prototype brings features and functions to life. This allows us to experience the system before a line of code is written. It also gives us something to use for User Testing. Medium fidelity keeps people focused on UX rather than being distracted by graphic design.
Some or all of the prototyped system is tested on real or potential customers. If testing shows something isn’t working for users, we would redesign invalidated areas (which should be tested again).
Goals/benefits: User Testing gives participants specific tasks or activities to accomplish within the prototype. We can see if people use the system easily or if they get frustrated, confused, or disappointed. It will cost you less to fix and improve things before the customer sees it.
When all UX steps are completed and the design is validated, we can create documentation Engineering may want.
Goals/benefits: While most Engineers like to get our prototype and a visual style guide, we can create additional notes or documentation if Engineering requests it.