Here is a list of the tools and methods that are presently in rotation within our UX team so far this year. Most of these are refined continuously and when I come across a new method or pattern it will be practiced during an ‘experimental’ period. After that it will be formalised with an all Dev department education to everyone is one board.

Design

This tools are used for designing new products, features to existing products as well as some internal systems.

Experience Map

I have found that an Experience Map is an effective way of beginning any UX effort.

Having a discussion around the Map provides a good framework for having discussions that clarify a few key questions:

Problem – What triggered the hypothesis? How was this identified ? From PM’s ? from Customers ? Are we solving the right problem ? Do we need to investigate further ?

Personas – Who will use this solution ? Will this differ from our present user personas for existing products ?

Stakeholders – Who is genuinely affected by this solution and should have a say. Who needs to be informed ?

Team – Who can deliver this solution? Will this fall into one of the existing Product teams ? Does a new  cross team group need to be created ?

Idea – What are the early thoughts and options to solve the problem? Careful not to jump to quick conclusions.

Value – What is the user benefit and business benefit for your solution?

Validation – What does the smallest, easiest, fastest-way to validate your idea. This can be a sketch, prototype or basic version of the product. Who can be validate this ? t

End-to-end demo – Tell a story to bring this to life, using anything from role play, sketches, story board. Very often we will use Story Mapping to explore and visualise this.

Test results – How will you judge the experience you’re setting out to provide? Qualitative or Quantitate testing ? how ?

User Story Mapping

When I discovered this method from Jeff Pattons recent book I couldn’t wait to put into use. For some time, I missed a way of summarising the scope of a Design accurately within an Agile context. This fixed that. I have written about this here. I find this is also a good tool to use to get different product teams on board to identify any holes in your present thinking.

Design Studio

Design Studio has been the cornerstone to introducing collaborative design in my organisation. I have facilitated this many times and used to tackle a wide range of problems (the Finance department was my most memorable).

If I had to choose one method from the list to use, this would be it.

Discovery / Delivery

An effective tool to improve the implementation of Design within the Agile context. This is a recent method method for my 2015 portfolio and I have written about this here.

Strategic

This efforts are used to document user continuous research, align design efforts across a platform, and measure product Usability over a longer period of time.

Design Decision Logs

I  find this is very valuably when working collaboratively and when decision happen quickly. It is a date, summary of the problem, design decision, reasoning and who was involved in the decision. This has really been helpful when, after some time, we need to go back to a design and try to recall why made these decision.

User Research Logs

This is a log that we used to record the results of all User Research conducted for all products. The inspiration for this is Sharon Tomers ‘Rainbow’ spreadsheet that we have adapted a bit with addition of  ‘Severity’ for all observations reported.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 16.24.36

Standard Usability Scale

The System Usability Scale (SUS) provides a good “quick and dirty”, reliable tool for measuring the usability. Originally created in 1986, it allows you to evaluate a wide variety of products and services, including hardware, software, mobile devices, websites and applications.

The original SUS consists of a 10 item questionnaire with five response options for respondents.  In our case we felt there was value in adding 4 more questions specifically suited to our product. The method can be a bit complex, but worth efforts invested.

My friend Martin has written a good description here

The results provide a framework to guide future design efforts depending on what aspects of the experience we want to influence.  

UX Style Guide

 Our organisation provides a platform of digital management services and has an active relationship with partners to develop functions outside the platforms core functionality (add-ons). In addition, we develop internal ‘add-ons’ that plan to be integrated later. As our company had grown the number of products, we needed a way to align the visual design of these new add-on functions. Enter the UX style.

We based the foundation of our guide the atomic design methodology pioneered by Brad Frost. We began the process by looking closely at the UI, taking the interface apart, conducting inventories, and defining the core elements and patterns that we used to build our products.

Once we had a library, we were better prepared to think about design in terms of distinct reusable components instead of complete product components.

This also had the unexpected benefit that the UX team received far fewer UI detailed questions from developers as we could refer them directly to the styleguide