The Intersection of User Needs and Business Objectives in Design Processes

NH - Product Designer
6 min readMar 22, 2024

--

Design process

Choosing the Ideal Design Process

There’s an abundance of resources available on the ideal design process. How do you organize your work as a designer? Which stages of the UX & UI process do you go through until you reach the final product?

During my time at my Ironhack UX & UI design bootcamp, we adhered to a strict and comprehensive outline, iterating through various UX methods such as crafting User personas, conducting thorough research to define the right problem, and testing our solutions. However, when discussing this process with designers and agencies post-bootcamp, I often observed a shared amusement as they exchanged glances and remarked, “We should be following this kind of a process, but in reality, we don’t.”

In reality, adhering strictly to a linear design process for every project is impractical. Each client brings unique requirements, sometimes necessitating a focused approach on specific elements such as brand identity, visual design, or UX refinement. While established methodologies like the Double Diamond method, Design Thinking, and Design sprints offer valuable frameworks, I’ve found that no single method universally applies. Instead, I’ve developed my own adaptable process, shaped by the project’s needs and the client’s preferences.

A quick overview of established design frameworks:

The Double Diamond method

This is a design framework that involves four key stages: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. It emphasizes divergent and convergent thinking to explore a wide range of possibilities before focusing on a specific solution.

The double diamond design process
Source: BiteSize Learning

Design sprints

Design sprints
Source: Alin Mateescu

Design sprints are intense, time-boxed workshops typically spanning five days, aimed at rapidly validating ideas and solving complex problems through prototyping and testing.

Human-Computer Interaction

HCI focuses on designing interfaces that facilitate effective interaction between humans and computers, considering factors such as usability, accessibility, and user satisfaction.

Design Thinking

Source: Agile Elephant/ Stanford d.school

Design Thinking gained prominence through IDEO and Stanford d.school. It promotes a human-centered approach to innovation that involves empathizing with users, defining the problem, ideating solutions, prototyping, and testing iteratively to arrive at user-centric solutions.

My design process

personal design process

In today’s landscape, a design process must prioritize user needs while aligning with business objectives. There is growing awareness of the importance of usability as it should be, as it offers an undeniable competitive edge and gives designers a sense of designing responsibly with the user in mind.

Heres an elaborated version of my design process, from which you can pick and choose depending on what your project needs. Refer to the image above for the condensed version.

1. Research and Discovery:

  • User Research: interviews, surveys, observations to understand user behaviors, needs, pain points.
  • Competitor Analysis: Analyze competitors’ products to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities
  • Stakeholder Interviews: Gather requirements and insights from stakeholders to align business goals with user needs.

Possible tools: Market positioning map, Competitor feature analysis, competitor brand analysis, Lean survey canvas, UX strategy blueprint, Lean UX canvas, Affinity map, empathy map.
(You can find all of these tools in one of my older articles).

2. User Personas and Journey Mapping:

  • Persona Creation: Develop user personas based on research findings to represent different user groups.
  • Journey Mapping: Map out user journeys to understand the steps users take to accomplish their goals and identify pain points.
  • Define Problem, possible solutions, MVP scope

Possible tools: Jobs to be done, Value proposition Canvas, Problem & Hypothesis statement, MOSCOW method (more about this here)

3. Information Architecture:

  • Sitemap Creation: Develop a hierarchical structure for the website or application, organizing content and features logically.
  • Wireframing: Create low-fidelity wireframes to visualize page layouts and information hierarchy without focusing on design details.

Possible tools: User flow chart, Sitemap, User stories, concept sketches

4. Design:

  • Visual Design: Develop high-fidelity mockups with attention to branding, typography, color scheme, and visual elements.
  • UI Design: Design the user interface elements such as buttons, icons, forms, and navigation components.
  • Prototyping: Create interactive prototypes to simulate user interactions and test usability.

5. Usability Testing:

  • Prototype Testing: Conduct usability tests with users to gather feedback on the design’s usability and effectiveness.
  • Iterate: Analyze test results and iterate on the design to address any usability issues or areas for improvement.

6. Development and Implementation:

  • Handoff: Prepare design assets and specifications for developers, ensuring clear communication of design intent.
  • Collaboration: Work closely with developers throughout the implementation process to address any design challenges or technical constraints.

7. Launch and Evaluation:

  • Launch: Release the product to users, monitoring its performance and collecting feedback.
  • Analytics: Track user interactions and behavior using analytics tools to gain insights into user engagement and identify areas for optimization.
  • Iterate: Continuously iterate on the design based on user feedback, analytics data, and evolving business requirements.

If you are working within a team or as an agency that offers a wide array of services, you might want to incorporate these points:

Brand Identity Development:

  • Brand Discovery: Conduct workshops or interviews with stakeholders to understand the brand’s values, personality, and positioning.
  • Brand Strategy: Develop a brand strategy document outlining key elements such as brand attributes, voice and tone, and target audience.
  • Visual Identity Design: Create visual elements including logo, color palette, typography, and imagery that align with the brand strategy.
  • Brand Guidelines: Document brand guidelines to ensure consistency in brand representation across all touchpoints.

Negotiations and Scope Definition:

  • Initial Consultation: Meet with the client to understand their project requirements, goals, and constraints.
  • Scope Definition: Clearly define the scope of work, including deliverables, timelnes, and any specific requirements or features.
  • Budget and Pricing: Discuss budget constraints and pricing models (e.g., fixed-price, hourly rate) with the client. Provide estimates based on the agreed scope of work.
  • Contractual Agreement: Draft a contract outlining the project scope, deliverables, timelines, pricing, payment terms, and any other relevant terms and conditions. Ensure clarity and transparency to avoid misunderstandings later on.

Integration with Design Process:

  • Brand Consistency: Ensure consistency between the brand identity and the user interface design to create a cohesive user experience.
  • Client Feedback: Seek feedback from the client at key milestones to ensure that the design aligns with their brand vision and objectives.

Developer Collaboration:

  • Early Engagement: Involve developers in the project planning phase to provide insights into technical requirements and feasibility.
  • Scope Review: Collaborate with developers to review the project scope and identify any technical challenges or dependencies that may impact the timeline or budget.
  • Estimation: Work with developers to provide accurate estimates for development effort based on the agreed scope of work.
  • Negotiation: If necessary, negotiate changes to the scope or pricing based on new insights or requirements that emerge during the design process.

Conclusion

There is no perfect design process, but incorporating a clear structure and best practices into your personal design framework will help you be more effective and deliver better results.

--

--