My Process - The Vision of a Solution

Photo credit: Brooke Cagle

Start off with a kick-off meeting and brief.

The Goal: To learn how each team member works.

  • What's their preferred method of communication?

  • What tasks can each person help with?

  • What skills do they excel in?

  • Is there a skill they can stretch on this project?

Questions to ask at the kick-off meeting

Team Introduction

  1. Core Team

  2. Project Manager

  3. Roles, Talents

Purpose + Objective

  1. What is the objective?

  2. Why is it important?

  3. What is the purpose of the project or task?

  4. What business questions are you trying to answer?

  5. Has this been tried before? 

  6. Possible obstacles for success

  7. How Might We Questions.

  8. What's our timeline?

How do we measure success?

  1. What is the ideal outcome?

  2. What areas or behaviors do we want to impact?

  3. What are we currently measuring?

  4. What can we measure to meet the business goals?

Who is the customer?

  1. Who are the users/customers? Provisional personas.

  2. Is there more than one type of user?

  3. What problems are we solving?

  4. Do we focus on new or existing customers?

  5. How do we include sub-cultures of our users?

Design + Accessibility

  1. What tasks are critical to accomplish? 

  2. Which devices, versions, and platforms will be supported?

  3. What software will be supported?

  4. What is the technology culture?

  5. How can we exceed accessibility standards?

The Three Levels of Accessibility, by Blayne Phillips


  1. What questions need answers?

  2. What types of answers do we expect? 

  3. Do we have outlying or extreme questions?

  4. Do we need quantitative or qualitative data?

  5. What research do we need to do for this project?

  6. How do we measure the accuracy of the data?

Work Breakdown Structure

  1. Phases

  2. Duration

  3. Resources

  4. Budget

  5. Costs

  6. Communication Plan

  7. Reporting Structure

Empathizing with your customers

Concept credit: Strategyzer

Value Proposition Canvas
How to visualize, design, and test how you create value.

Starting with your customer profile.

What is your customer trying to achieve?
What type of problems are they solving?
Are they Functional, Social or Emotional?

Highlight their frustrations, risks, pains, or obstacles.
What experience do they want to avoid?
What experience do they want to gain?
How does your user measure success of a product?

This step will allow you to create a provisional persona.

Photo credit: Samuel Braslow

Exploratory Research - Gaining empathy

Gathering context, history, and competitive analysis.
Develop design hypothesis.

This stage gives you an understanding of how this problem is being addressed now. You can gain insights and be inspired to create new strategies.

Researching a problem and how others are solving it, gives you context and empathy about your users.

My Field Work - Direct Observation at CSULA 2019

Ethnographic Field Research, Direct Observation

Field research is conducted in the user’s context at their location. The goal is find out how people do everyday things. By observing people on location, you have a direct understanding of people's needs. This is where you can obtain data for your journey maps, personas, use cases, and user stories. At this stage you can learn cultural context and context of use.

It's at this stage you can refine your requirements, user flows, personas, architecture, and content strategies.

Photo credit: Anna Vander

Primary and Secondary Research & Interviews of Stakeholders + Users

What do your users experience? What could make their lives easier?

Meet users in their environment to learn from them and their context. Ask them to "show you" what their pain points are.

Capture what they say, feel, and experience with notes, recorder, video, and photos. Ask task-focused questions to learn how users perform a task or use a service.

Empathy > Observation > In-depth Conversation >
Quick hand-drawn solutions >
Ideally speak to an "outlier" or "extreme user" in the group.

Concept credit: Dirk van Erve

Cultural Probe Box

Targets Context and Future Contextual changes.

Anticipate and use known behavior i.e. daily rituals or activities.

Goal: Gather data on people's relationship with their possessions. Creates an engaging experience that sparks conversation.

Examples include:

  1. Participants are asked to complete diary in a notebook.

  2. People are given a task to perform and make notes about in a workbook. This engages participants and adds element of fun.

  3. Participants map their own environment with stickers and post-its.

  4. Use a disposable camera to document events related to the topic. Can be combined with the diary or map.

  5. Postcard sent from designer to participants serving as a reminder or adding something thought-provoking.

Photo credit: Rebecca Cabage


With observations, field notes, images, maps, and post-its you can categorize the information you've gathered.

Make new connections.
Discover "ah-ha" experiences.
Learn from walking in your users' shoes.

This stage is analyzing user data. The more assumptions and preconceptions are put aside, the more one can see new connections and patterns.


Journey Mapping

Activities, Motivations, Questions, Barriers

Mapping the steps of a user experience and uncover innovation opportunities.

Affinity Mapping

Synthesizing data and gaining insights.

Sharing insights with clients and stakeholders.

Complete Personas

Several personas are important to create a tangible understanding of the user.

Photo credit: Amelie Mourichon


Teams who test five or more solutions in parallel are 42% more likely to create successful solutions than teams that don’t do rapid prototyping." IDEO

Physical and digital prototypes are quick, fun, and engage everyone in the act of play.

Prototype > Test > Client Input > REPEAT

UX Activities and Tools


  • Field Studies

  • User Interviews

  • Diary Studies

  • Stakeholder Interviews

  • Requirements & Constraints

  • Competitive Testing

  • Find Allies

  • Talk with Experts

  • Involved Stakeholders

  • Hunt for Data Sources

  • Determine UX metrics


  • Competitive Analysis

  • Design Review

  • Persona Building

  • Task Analysis

  • Journey Mapping

  • Universal Design, iXD Principles Inclusion

  • Prototype Testing & Feedback

  • Card Sorting

  • Map Features to Needs

  • Incorporate Diverse Contexts

  • Consider Social Implications


  • Qualitative Usability Testing

  • Training Research

  • User Group Outreach

  • Social Media Monitoring

  • Analyze Forum Postings

  • Benchmark Metrics

  • Accessibility Evaluation

  • Personal Data Safety

  • Track Usability Overtime

  • Include Diverse Users

  • Track Usability Bugs

  • Create Training Info


  • Surveys

  • Analytics Review

  • Search-log Analysis

  • Usability Bug Review

  • Feedback Review

  • FAQ Review

  • Conference Outreach

  • Listen to User Sentiment

  • Reduce Need for Training

My passion for User Experience

User experience research, design and strategy are fascinating processes. They have unique and parallel methodologies with the creative process. There are many unknowns, iterations, redesigns, reassembling, reorganizing, rethinking, and killing your darlings. All of which have the user at the center.

The more you connect with the user, the more your design solutions reflect what the user needs and thus meet your business goals. Listen and learn. Your users can teach you.

When you focus on a framework of investigations with the user, you are challenged to design in a completely new way than you originally imagined. This is just like the artistic process.


  • I mentor young artists.

  • I create clay sculptures and gestural ink drawings.

  • I transform my garden into a native-plant oasis for butterflies and hummingbirds.

  • I play beach volleyball and try to learn how to surf.

  • I cook up interesting dishes from around the world.

  • I laugh endlessly with my three sisters.

  • I learn all about Physics and the universe from Dr. Harry.

  • I marvel at my crazy companion, Toby.