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Every experience can be designed to be better & this is my process:


Step 1: User Research, EMPATHY, & UNDERSTANDING

My process adapts to each unique project I work on; the core of my process remains consistent and it always starts with research & understanding. I’m sharing with you some examples of the different tasks and activities I use to empathize with users and make sure that I am solving for the right problems.


Current Site Audit

My process begins with an audit of what currently exists, be it a back-of-napkin idea of a fully realized product. I start with a full analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the project in written form, as a baseline for future work

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Because empathy is core to my design process, I believe that spending time with users, ideally in the environment they use or want to use your product in, is critical to success. From zero to a million users, direct observation, qualitative interviews, and interactions are core to creating world-class digital products.


Very few ideas exists in a bubble, and this step places me in the role of a prospective user in order to understand where the most value can be delivered by understanding the decision process from awareness to retention & where similar products in the market stand.


To start getting the baseline of discovery down, I use surveys to get user demographic information in a quick and efficient way & follow it up by meeting with users to get real feedback by asking them direct questions. Specifically, the 5 w's - Who, What, When, Where, & Why? Sometimes I find that users are familiar with the product and get direct quotes from them on why they have or have not been using it, which can be a springboard for the next steps in the research process.

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Stakeholder interviews

All businesses have needs and I make sure to put an extra emphasis on not only satisfying those needs, but also finding any extra hidden gem opportunities there may be. I'm looking for answers to these types of questions: What features are an absolute must for the stakeholders? What is the abandonment rate and where is it happening? What things do customers complain about or ask for most often?

I will use these insights to continue to direct the research process and to ensure that the design changes I eventually make will add value to the business & those behind it.

Affinity mapping

This is when I start to compile all of the feedback that’s been gathered so far and group it into themes to see the overall issues with the product. This really helps showcase the main problems users are currently facing, where new potential opportunities may lie, and which parts of the product are the most important to get fixed first.


My next step is to clearly identify user needs, pain points, & opportunities and utilize all of the research data gathered so far to formulate personas. I use these to help align the entire team in the same direction: getting everyone focused on negating the user's frustrations, enhancing their motivations, and helping them achieve their goals. By making the problem into a story with a relatable person attached, it turns into something very tangible & easy to empathize with, even if you aren't a designer.


Once the pain points, needs, and wants for both the business and our user personas are clearly understood - it’s time to start tracking how that interacts with users current flow; from their very first interaction with your company to being a frequently returning user. Mapping it out in this way allows me to clearly see which part(s) of the journey are stopping customers from getting to the end result the business wants them to be getting to. Fixing these roadblocks is the best and quickest path to adding tangible value to the product - both for the user and the business.

OTHER TASKS IN THIS STEP MIGHT INCLUDE: Data analysis & research synthesis, defining user scenarios, completing a task analysis, compiling a project plan, and defining success metrics.

STEP 2: ANALYSIS & Ideation

Using the data gathered about the users needs, pain-points, and potential impactful opportunities - I define a problem statement, goals, & KPI's for the project. This step is all about finding simple solutions to complex problems. 

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Once a problem is defined, it's time to think of all the ideas for potential solutions. I think this is best done with a team all sitting in a room together bouncing ideas around & adding onto each other ideas. It usually ends with a bunch of sketches and stick notes on the wall.


Information architecture is important because if it's done right, users will be able to very quickly locate exactly what that they are looking for. Naming consistently, categorizing appropriately, and understanding how different sections of information really relate to each other are fundamentals to understand. I often utilize card sorting as a way to figure out how users mentally map the information & then ensure the product is built to match.

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The next thing I usually do is create a site map, or a new one, for the website or product I'm working on. It's definitely necessary to nail down, but it also is really helpful to help show clients exactly what is changing and why it makes sense to have it this way. If there are different user roles or permissions, I like using symbols and colors to label those on the site map and user flows.


User flows can take many forms for different purposes, but I think it's best to pick a certain set of tasks cycles for specific user persona, and then map out that user flow accordingly. I always like to make one clean version for the non-technical team and then an additinoal one for the developers with error states and other information added.

OTHER TASKS IN THIS STEP MIGHT INCLUDE: Content strategy, building taxonomies, doodling, and mind mapping.

STEP 3: Testing & Iterations

Testing early and often is important to ensure that the solutions being thought up are going to be the best ones to solve the problem. Prototypes are made without a single line of code, so they are fast and relatively cheap to make. Testing at multiple levels of fidelity gives me the ability to iterate and really perfect the designs before development ever has the chance to waste time and money building the wrong solution.

Rapid Sketching - Dwindle.jpg


Sketching can be done basically anywhere and is the best way for me to sift through a lot of different ideas really quickly in order to see what the best potential solutions could be. I use sketches to visually communicate ideas with the team in order to generate early feedback & flesh out any technical limitations that may interfere down the road.

PAPER PROTOTYPE, testing & iterations

Paper prototyping is a great way to prototype and test multiple solutions. Using the sketches I’ve already made, I can make multiple paper prototypes in a matter of minutes. Testing with these allow me to get users involved very early in the design process to uncover usability issues, validate design decisions based on actual user reactions, and ultimately iterate on and combine ideas based on user feedback to get to the next version.


After iterating, I turn the sketches into wireframes and add more details & specifics about specifically how the idea would work. These are useful for a variety of reasons - not only can I test this new version with users but I can also run it by the developers (if they have not already been involved). This is a great time to find out about any potential issues with the new designs; that way we can work together & collaborate to find a suitable alternative before any time gets wasted on an idea that can’t be built.

Medium Fidelity Prototype, testing & iterations

During this phase of testing, I'm looking to see if the new user flows makes sense, the products overall ease of use, and to narrow down functionality. Using either one idea or A/B testing with multiple ideas, I give the user a series of tasks based on the user flow of a single persona to see if they can intuitively complete it without difficulty. This allows me to watch and take notes about each decision the user makes along the way and any issues they have. I use these insights to iterate and make the designs even better.


After iterating, I start to work on really nailing down the visual and interaction design aspects of the new idea. This involves everything from (but not limited to) updating to on-brand typography and color schemes, to deciding how buttons and dropdowns will behave, adding custom animations, and thinking about edge cases & empty states. This is when the final solution really starts to come together; all decisions have been made, just clean designs are left and I can I begin turning them into a final prototype.

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These are relatively quick to make and are useful in so many ways. I use high fidelity prototypes to show the team & investors new product direction, to show developers exactly what to build, and to keep testing with our users to validate the final designs or see what final changes need to be made, if any are necessary.

OTHER TASKS IN THIS STEP MIGHT INCLUDE: User testing & repeating the entire step if necessary

STEP 4: DESIGN & Release

This step is all about working with developers to get the product build correctly and marketed well before it’s put out into the wild.


defining A STYLE GUIDE

A style guide is kind of like a list of decisions that I made in order to focus the way that brands present themselves to the world. I’m effectively creating a consistent set of guidelines for all team members to follow to ensure that the brand is always being represented in the right way. I use online tools that allow me to share a living version of the style guide with the team, so if anything changes they are the first to know.


Annotating wireframes not only helps me ensure that I have though every aspect of the design and all the possible outcomes for a user, but also that I can clearly articulate the specifics of the new design. I use these to show the developers exactly what I want the product to do in every situation. This ensures that there is no confusion, that we are always on the same page, and that the solution is being built correctly.


Next I get together everything the developers will need to accurately implement the new designs and break it down into manageable tasks. I deliver pixel perfect, browser-based, marked up screens that can be updated anytime. It not only provides developers with correct colors, shadows, and fonts; but also the appropriate unit of measurements for all the different web browsers, iOS, and Android resolutions. On each task I link the related screens, attach a video overview of the high fidelity prototype, and a written explanation with any other information that may be needed.

Marketing Materials - Shoppr.jpg


Sometimes clients ask for additional help in reaching past the product and into marketing, delivering value to the sales process by creating clean, visually enticing, and visually consistent marketing materials, from email content to mugs and branded user gifts.

QA & more testing

My commitment to excellence in design extends past the product release, ensuring that the finished product creates delight in the hands of users and delivers results to the team.

STEP 5: WATCH & Repeat

I watch users using the new version of the product on their own terms & in their own way. I start empathizing with them again to see if we solved their problems and test to see just how effective the new designs are against the KPI’s that were defined earlier in the process. After that, it’s time to repeat the process and start working to solve the next priority problem.




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