Foundation Idea to MVP

At the beginning of any new project there are certain pieces of information that are needed so that a product has a solid foundation from which to create the best user experience.  

Product Design Kickoff Checklist

Checklist Items
1. What’s the problem statement?
2. Who’s going to use it?
3. What are their processes?
4. What's important to them when performing tasks?

Deliverables
- Product Statement
- Personas
- Workflow diagrams
- Product Story Map

Product Kickoff Checklist EML Diagram

Designing Methodologies and Concepts 

Throughout the entire design process there are concepts that I try to inhabit or leverage to design a product

User Experience Design

Guiding Principles

  • Useful Your content should be original and fulfill a need
  • Usable Site must be easy to use
  • Desirable Image, identity, brand, and other design elements are used to evoke emotion and appreciation
  • Findable Content needs to be navigable and locatable onsite and offsite
  • Accessible Content needs to be accessible to people with disabilities
  • Credible Users must trust and believe what you tell them

Aspects Addressed

  • Visual Design the use of imagery, color, shapes, typography, and form to enhance usability and improve the user experience
  • Information Architecture organizing, structuring, and labeling content in an effective and sustainable way. The goal is to help users find information and complete tasks.
  • Content Strategy planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content. Content not only includes the words on the page but also the images and multimedia that are used
  • Interaction Design the design of the interaction between users and products
  • Usability the degree to which something is able or fit to be used.
  • User Research understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies.

 

Ethnographic User Research

Keystones

  • Identify user needs that have yet to be met
  • Test market demand for products that do not exist
  • Provide a holistic view of a problem space
  • Expose opportunities for competitive differentiation

Interviewee Interaction
User research begins by developing a relationship with the interviewee. Developing a level of rapport helps show you possess empathy and understanding with that person. When they feel comfortable with you they tend to be more honest when participating in the process. I take the time to introduce myself prior to starting. Explain what’s going to happen and invite questions from the start. Make sure you are engaged in the conversation throughout and thank them for taking the time when finished.

Interview Strategy
If the interviewee states they took an action or made a judgment call but do not explain their motivation, this is an opportunity to ask “why” to explore if you can find a root cause to truly address their problems within their existing processes.

Each time you ask “why” you get someone to re-evaluate their position and dig a little deeper into their own reasoning. It can seem odd to keep asking “why” at first but it brings great insights.

Product Story Map

Product Story MapPING

An holistic approach to building a shared understanding for teams around a user’s experience with a product. The map is a simple way to visually tell a product story. Stories are arranged top to bottom to help understand the functionality of the system, identify holes and omissions in your backlog, and effectively plan holistic releases that deliver value to users and business with each release. 

Human-Centered DEsign 

My approach that helps make sure new products are tailor-made to meet people’s needs and wants. It is achieved when the following pillars of the methodology intersect:

  • Desirability What do people desire?
  • Feasibility What is technically and organizationally feasible?
  • Viability What can be financially viable?

This methodology is flipping the heart of product design from system-focused to human-focused. That means building a product thats interaction fits the way a particular persona works instead of requiring the user to learn new processes through documentation in order to conform to the system.

Human-Centered Design is really all about building empathy for every person involved in the product design process. This way the final product is tailored as close as it can be to meeting user and stakeholder needs. It maye take a few iterations of the design process to finally understand a problem or create an user-accepted solution.

 

Design Thinking

I believe design thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systematic reasoning to explore possibilities of what could be and to create desired outcomes that benefit the target user. It can greatly reduce uncertainty to facilitate lasting and innovative products by regularly engaging with users using rapid prototypes to learn, test, and refine designs.

 

Rapid Prototyping

Rapid iteration to get to a product that will add the maximum value to the user. It is a cyclical concept where you move through each stage to the next and when you reach the end, you return to the beginning (over and over again) until you have the result that you need.

 

Tactical Design Critique

Allows the team to quickly get a shared sense of how they feel about an existing design, what might need to be done about it — and also grow stronger as a team while at it.

Objectives

  • List of tensions around the current design
  • Tackle either tactically or strategically
  • Team members have a chance to voice their opinions
  • Shared understanding around parts of our user experience

Process

  1. Design presented for entire group on TV
  2. Round Robin; Each person shares only 1 tension
  3. Repeat / Skip
  4. Cross Talking Prohibited
  5. 30 min limit

 

Agile

The ability to create and respond to change in order to succeed in an uncertain and turbulent environment. 

Manifesto’s 12 Principles

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  • Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

 

Scrum

An Agile framework for completing complex projects. Works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. Scum helps ensure transparency, inspection, and adaptation

Scrum Framework

  • A product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.
  • During sprint planning, the team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wish list, a sprint backlog, and decides how to implement those pieces.
  • The team has a certain amount of time — a sprint (usually two to four weeks) — to complete its work, but it meets each day to assess its progress (daily Scrum).
  • Along the way, the ScrumMaster keeps the team focused on its goal.
  • At the end of the sprint, the work should be potentially shippable: ready to hand to a customer, put on a store shelf, or show to a stakeholder.
  • The sprint ends with a sprint review and retrospective.
  • As the next sprint begins, the team chooses another chunk of the product backlog and begins working again.

Huddle

A daily 15 minute session lead by a scrum master where a product team can synchronize. Huddles are used to understand progress toward a sprint goal and to inspect how progress is trending toward completing the work remaining in the sprint backlog. The huddle is held at the same time and place each day to reduce complexity. The scrum master is responsible for ensuring that only product team members participate in the huddle and not stakeholders.

  1. What stories did you complete yesterday?
  2. What stories will you focus on completing today?
  3. Are there any impediments preventing you from completing anything?

 

Kanban

Kanban's highly visual nature allowed teams to communicate more easily on what work needed to be done and when. It also standardized cues and refined processes, which helped to reduce waste and maximize value.

Core Values

  • Visualize work Create a visual model of work and work flow, so as to observe the flow of work moving through the Kanban system. Making the work visible, along with blockers, bottlenecks, and queues, instantly leads to increased communication and collaboration.
  • Limit Work In Process Limit how much unfinished work is in process and reduce the time it takes an item to travel through the Kanban system. Problems caused by task switching and the need to constantly reprioritize items can be reduced by limiting WIP.
  • Focus on Flow By using work in process (WIP) limits and developing team-driven policies, the Kanban system can be optimized to improve the smooth flow of work, collect metrics to analyze flow, and even get leading indicators of future problems by analyzing the flow of work.
  • Continuously Improve Once the Kanban system is in place, it becomes the cornerstone for a culture of continuous improvement. Teams measure their effectiveness by tracking flow, quality, throughput, lead times, and more. Experiments and analysis can change the system to improve the team’s effectiveness.

 

User Stories

A user story is used to “facilitate the functionality of a system but can be used in any environment to ensure that design and development are focused on user needs.” It focuses on the who, what and why, never how. User stories are structured as the following:

As a [persona], I want to [goal], so I can [motivation].

Understanding the motivation helps because:

  • it gives clarity as to why a feature is useful;
  • it can influence how a feature should function;
  • it can give you ideas for other useful features that support the user’s goals.

 

Agile Sprints

A time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created. Sprints best have consistent durations throughout a development effort. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint.

Sprints events include Planning, Daily Scrums, Review, and Retrospectives.Any stories not completed within the assigned sprint are pushed to the following sprint to be completed first or sent to the backlog to for inclusion in a future sprint.

During an Active Sprint:

  • No changes are made that would endanger the Sprint Goal;
  • Quality goals do not decrease; and,
  • Scope may be clarified and re-negotiated between the Product Owner and Development Team as more is learned.

Sprints help to determine predictability of team velocity through inspection and constant fluctuation of progress toward a sprint goal while also reducing risk of misapplying effort towards an invaluable goal.

Sprint Events

  • Sprint Planning Helps product teams determine which stories should be targeted for completion in the upcoming sprint by adding them to a sprint backlog list. The session is moderated by a scrum master who ensures the session is conducted within a time-box of ~45 min.
  • Backlog Grooming A session where the product team in collaboration with stakeholders prioritize, add, or remove user stories in the product backlog. Prioritizing the backlog includes arranging the stories with the highest priority at the top and lowest priority at the very bottom. Grooming sessions are occur prior to the start of the next sprint.
  • Sprint Retrospective An opportunity for the [Product] Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint. 

 

User-Centric Product Design

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A high level process combining user-centered design principles with agile and scrum methodologies. Following this process will ensure that the product meets both user and stakeholder requirements. The 5 pillars of this process are:

  • Strategy Project visions & goals, brand strategy, definition of success, priorities 
  • Discovery Business requirements, analytics, review, content audit, surveys, user interviews, user testing
  • Analysis use cases, personas, storyboards, experience maps, process diagrams 
  • Design mood board, user flow map, sketches, wireframes, prototypes, user testing 
  • Production Prototyping, MVP, user testing, release GA