Merely designing and shipping a product is hard, and I’m not even talking about a good product. There are plenty of things that could (and often will) go wrong, especially when you’re designing for others (as most consultancies do). Keeping stakeholders engaged and on board with your creative direction, all while keeping waste to a minimum is tricky business.
Converge: align the team around one idea (user stories and/or user flows and/or UIs).
Prototype: quickly build a prototype you can test.
Validate: test the prototype with users outside your team to learn what works and what doesn’t.
We occasionally skip some of the steps. It is not unusual for example in the initial stages to run a couple “ideation” sprints with only step 1 to 3 (understand → diverge → converge) to help get the team familiar with the process
Prior to kicking off a product design cycle, we also spend some time preparing things:
Selecting the team and its facilitator.
Start identifying users for testing.
Setting a schedule (do this ahead of time, you want to make sure everybody will attend).
I also sometimes do a first round of stakeholder and/or user interviews (I’ll develop on this in a future post) and start collecting whatever existing data I can put my hands on: analytics, existing strategies, surveys…
Last point, you want to get a couple tools ready:
Whiteboards, post-its, notebooks, sharpies… Basically everything you’ll need to doodle the heck out of your ideas.
A place to consolidate and share your notes (I usually use Hackpad).
This step is dedicated to framing the discussion and evaluating our design problem by answering these questions:
What data do we have? Analytics, user interviews, user feedback, surveys….?
What is the business opportunity?
Who are our users?
What pain or problem are we solving?
Why would people use this?
Who can we draw inspiration from? Who’s the competition? How does their product work?
How do we define success? (very important point)
At the end of this step, the team should come up with a sketch of the critical user story and understand how we will define and/or measure success.