[The 4 D’s of My Design Process] Part 1: I start with the people…

Heatherlee Nguyen •  IᑎᗪIE ᑕOᑎᔕᑌᒪTᗩᑎT •𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 ≋𝗖𝗫≋ 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻•

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As a seasoned designer you start developing your own framework for the work you do. Ideally, you follow your well-intentioned design process to a tee, never compromising on the phases or pacing you recommend to your clients.

As a consultant though, joining many different product teams with varying levels of maturity, capital and design thinking, it’s no secret we designers don’t always get to follow our preferred process. We get the job done. We compromise, bending to the budget, the team culture, scope and timing set before us.

At least that’s what I do. I don’t believe there’s one perfect way. I love learning and making new ways work. The work we’re doing deserves openness and flexibility from all team members. As long as we’re following the basic design tenants and applying empathy the process we follow is malleable. That said, here are some notes on my preferred design process. It always starts with the people..

PEOPLE FIRST
Who exactly? Well everyone. I start with gaining insight into the team I’m working with. Where’s everyone’s expertise, where are their passions, where do our abilities overlap and where are there gaps? I consider the stakeholders. I gauge their expectations, their specific interests in the project/product and gain an understanding of how closely we’ll collaborate. I also learn about the people on the perimeters of my team, maybe outside partners or other internal teams that I may be developing for or with. How will we leverage each other?

Last but certainly not least..

Who we design for. Who we think we’re designing for. Who we want to reach, who we want to impact. One of the main things I do is gain a deep understanding of, and empathy for, those using, affected by, and relying on this thing we’re designing. Who are they really? I consider their lifestyles, their interests, where they live, how they do the things they do, how different and how similar they are from other people using the thing. I interview them, observe them and put myself in their shoes. I create artifacts for the team that keeps this front and center at all times.

It’s ALWAYS, always people first. Just scroll through my blog posts, you’ll see the proof is in the pudding. They are the center of the process. The nucleus, if you will.

After the people I focus on data, defining, designing, and (re)discovering.

DATA: What is it?

I get a close look at the following..

Product History: Is this thing new? If not, how long has it been in-use? Why was it originally developed? What needs does it serve and where is it lacking? What do people like/dislike about it? I take a look at the existing product roadmap (or lack of) to gain as much knowledge I can on how this thing works, what it’s purpose is, what the vision of the team is and where any barriers are.
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Analytics: What’s being measured, how is it currently being used? What’s not being measured that should be? Is there an analytics team I can partner with as the project evolves?

Research: How has this thing been researched for? What should now be in place? Is there a research team that gathers and analyzes competitive data and market research? What are the trends? How will we continue collecting research as we move forward?

Once the data is looked at and research has a foundational start it’s time to define some things.

DEFINE: What is it?…… to be continued..

Read more about my process in my next post. Hit the follow button below for email notifications when new posts go live. Thanks for reading!

TᕼE IᑎᗪIE ᑕOᑎᔕᑌᒪTᗩᑎT 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 »𝗖𝗫« 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. I’m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for.

Contact info & more about me here.

Day in the Life at Central Command Center

design work, product research, user experience, user research

Best data center I’ve seen!
🤩👍🏽🚀

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I’m working on a recap of this research we did on-site last month. This was such a great group of people, they let us into their workspace to understand their job, process, culture. They were so generous, and funny too! Always a plus.

I love what I do!

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What’s your favorite thing about visiting your users/customers on-site?

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TᕼE IᑎᗪIE ᑕOᑎᔕᑌᒪTᗩᑎT
𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 »𝗖𝗫« 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. I’m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for.

Contact info & more about me here.

Voice of Customer booth!

heatherlee nguyen, product research, user research
At my clients’ conference collecting user feedback this week. Two software companies are merging and it’s our job to embody DESIGN AS A STRATEGY. We were here collecting what people love, wish for and what they hope we don’t change as the integration roadmap planning begins. We also held a workshop where we collaborated directly with the customers, it was a big hit! What else did we do? What did we learn? How did these activities help the product team? More to come.. HeatherleeNguyen_C3-03

TᕼE IᑎᗪIE ᑕOᑎᔕᑌᒪTᗩᑎT 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 »𝗖𝗫« 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻 I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. I’m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for. Contact info & more about me here.

Design Thinking at its finest!

design thinking, design work, human centered design

Last week at Azul Seven we coached an incredible group in the postures and mindsets of design thinking. 20 people from different departments came together to form teams and learn together.

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It was amazing to see them fully lean in, even when we asked them to spend 2 hours going up to strangers downtown Minneapolis! They gained empathy, created POVs, practiced effective brainstorming, prototyped and tested with real users.

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It was an intense 3-days: A true privilege to see the breakthroughs, to hear how they wanted to keep going after getting feedback, to know how eager they all are to use this new toolset when they returned to work this week.

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And this week, we do it all again! Day 1 with a different group from the same organization. Their goal is to have 100% of their workforce be trained in design thinking.. music to my ears!

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If you were hosting a bootcamp to teach your clients or teams something new, what would the topic be?


TᕼE IᑎᗪIE ᑕOᑎᔕᑌᒪTᗩᑎT
𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 »𝗖𝗫« 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.

I love my job!

design work

Stoked to be coaching 3 full days (x2!) of design thinking bootcamps with my favorite local agency. They’re training me this week, to do it their own unique way.. techniques they’ve been recognized for, and one of the reasons I’ve wanted to work with them for years. Dream come true to have made it here, collaborating with them, learning from them and helping their clients with big juicy problems.

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Come next week I’m “certified” to coach! ..but as with everything, I keep that learners mindset. I may be coaching but I am always a student! That’s the greatest part about working in design We don’t know everything and we don’t pretend to. But we’re curious. We’re open to change. We deeply love humanity.. And we hope to give others the tools to believe they too, are designers. We are all design thinkers at the core.. just a muscle we must discover and exercise. We are coaches but you are experts. We are facilitators but you are doers. This is about you bringing this practice to everything you do. This is a mindset shift. This is a culture change. This is practice at its best ✨


TᕼE IᑎᗪIE ᑕOᑎᔕᑌᒪTᗩᑎT
𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 »𝗖𝗫« 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. I’m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for.

Contact info & more about me here.

Work Space Matters

design work

True or false?

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True or false? My team has a dedicated work space where we can fill walls with our research, our post-its, our concepts.. where we can ideate, iterate, organize and gather?

False? Forget the open space, forget the free coffee, forget the bring your dog to work days.. GIVE YOUR TEAMS A SPACE! To own. To create. To ideate.

 

That’s your #transformationtuesday challenge.. don’t have a war room? Find one, make one.

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TᕼE IᑎᗪIE ᑕOᑎᔕᑌᒪTᗩᑎT
𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 »𝗖𝗫« 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.

 

Learning matters

design work

Understanding the need..

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I’m crafting a research plan which includes a 3-pronged immersive study complete with a plan B and a plan C because let’s face it.. B2B user research doesn’t always go our way.. you might need to get scrappy, you might need to compromise. No matter how we slice it, my job is to make sure we’re learning— that we’re getting quality feedback, understanding user mindsets, the software capabilities and flaws in each context, and WHY what’s not working needs to be better. If we don’t understand the business challenges, the user challenges, we can’t fix or build the right things.

Understanding the problems comes way before dreaming up solutions.

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I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.

 

Purpose

design work

What’s the why?..

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“Even the best designers produce successful products only if their designs solve the right problems. A wonderful interface to the wrong features will fail.”
— Jakob Nielsen (leading researcher)

“Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style.”
— Massimo Vignelli (leading designer)

“Above all else, align with customers. Win when they win. Win only when they win.”
— Jeff Bezos (leading founder)

 

You don’t have to be a designer to understand design has to have a reason. The what is nothing without the why. Features are pointless if it doesn’t solve a problem. Pretty visuals are only a fad if it doesn’t tell a story. Products can’t thrive without happy, collaborative users. Services fail if technology is favored over people. Experienced professionals, who have both succeeded and failed many times over know this.

How can you inspire your team to share this point of view?

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I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.

 

Meeting the people behind your personas matters

design work

Meet the people..

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Personas only bring value when they’re crafted from true data. Don’t make the stuff up! Go learn about the people you design for, go talk to those you want to serve and you’ll have plenty of facts, you’ll see plenty of similarities and differences amongst your user group if you make the effort to listen. It’s not about who you, your team, your product thinks these people are.. it’s about actually representing the real life people. It’s a process that can take many weeks, even months or years like in some projects I’ve seen, or it can be done in a week. There’s nothing wrong with doing it scrappy. As long as you do it right.. and by right I mean, reflecting the true words, thoughts, lives of the people you’re designing for. Simple as that.

It doesn’t matter how good your UX copywriter is.. a true human-centered persona project requires you to get to know the real people, for real!

No funny business.

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I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.

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Contextual Inquiry – 2 Days in the Life //// PROJECT HIGHLIGHT

design work

One of my favorite experiences to date was touring this call center & fulfillment center where I got to meet the heart and soul of this important service, the people on the phone, the people packaging up orders!

It was a humbling experience that actually brought me to tears.

It was my first time in Kentucky & Tennessee and I truly can attest to that beautiful southern hospitality.. these people deeply cared about the people they served. Their hearts were huge. And I’ll never forget about how privileged I felt to be able to help design a better process and software system for them to be able to do their jobs better. Thank you to all you kind souls in the service industries!!! You are the backbone of everything ❤️❤️❤️

What a great experience being in the field, with the people powering the service experience for this brand. One to the artifacts I created was a digital and static journey map documenting the patient experience from first call all the way to final delivery. I documented the process followed, systems used, pain points for users and impact on end customers. I learned so much! It was very interesting to see the back and forth, circular relationship between internal team members and outside providers. .

 

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I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.

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