Institutionalise UX Methodology: Phase D – Method

The focus of the method phase is to demonstrate what steps are required when conducting a UX project.

Institutionalise UX methodology: Phase D - Method Institutionalise UX methodology: Phase D – Method

The steps for Phase D include:

  • D1. Determine the need for UX:
    • The need for UX needs to be determined for each project. It is fiscally irresponsible to conduct usability testing if the schedule does not include time to revise the design. Avoid projects where the goal is simply for the UX team to accept the design without discussion.
    • What to do:
      • The organisation must answer the following questions:
        • Is the project important within the organisation?
        • Is UX important to this project?
        • Can the project be used to measure the before and after benefits of UX?
        • Does the project manager support UCD?
        • Does the schedule allow time to revise the design?
        • If the answers to these questions are “yes”, the project can be initiated.
      • User involvement is essential.
      • For more information see the “Institutionalising Usability: 5 ways to embed usability in your company” article by Dr David Travis.
  • D2. Identify the type of site:
    • Although no black-and-white distinctions exist between one type of site and another, there are differences in site focus and characteristics. Understanding the similarities and differences can assist to: set design goals; solidify the primary objectives; understand what stakeholders should be involved; determine the best methods to incorporate user research and to ask questions about which systems and technologies may be involved.
    • What to do:
      • Identify the type of site from these typical options:
        • Unger and Chandler list the following:
          • Brand presence: A constantly present online platform that facilitates the relationship between a company and a general audience.
          • Marketing campaign: A targeted site intended to elicit a specific and measurable response from a particular audience or from a general audience over a limited period of time.
          • Content source: A store of information intended to inform, engage or entertain users.
          • Task-based applications: A tool designed to allow users to accomplish a set of key tasks or workflows.
        • Governments typically have the following:
          • Informational: The goal of this site is to provide information regarding a specific topic.
          • Transactional: The goal of this site is for the user to complete a transaction, such as filling in a form (apply for a job online).
          • Campaign: The goal of this site is to promote a specific topic. A campaign can be informational and/or transactional.
          • Social media: The goal is to have a social media presence in order to interact with citizens.
  • D3. Create a proposal:
    • A proposal is a written contract between the UX team and an organisation that clearly defines the required work. A comprehensive written contract is the best defence and the smartest way to ensure that there are no disagreements, financial or legal troubles later in the project.
    • What to do:
      • The proposal needs the following elements: title page; revision history; project overview; project approach; scope of work; assumptions; deliverables; ownership and rights; additional costs and fees; project pricing; payment schedule; acknowledgement and sign-off.
      • Unger and Chandler provides more guidance on creating a proposal in their book “A Project Guide to UX Design”.
  • D4. Plan the project:
    • The key to a good project is to start with clear project objectives and a well understood approach.
    • What to do:
      • Determine the project objectives and approach: solidify project objectives and understand the project approach (overall methodology/lifecycle).
      • Determine the project scope.
      • Prioritise project requirements: the level of importance to the business; the level of importance to the user; technical feasibility; resource feasibility.
      • Assemble a project team: It is important to have the correct skill sets available.
      • Define roles and responsibilities.
      • Plan UX activities and documentation.
      • Document the plan.
  • D5. Develop business requirements:
    • Business requirements are high-level statements of the goals, objectives or needs of the enterprise. The requirements describe why a project is initiated, what the project will achieve and the metrics that will be used to measure its success.
    • What to do:
      • Understand the current site (if applicable): conduct a heuristic evaluation, reviewing how the site measures against the organisation’s objectives, usability goals, user’s needs and basic Web guidelines.
      • Gather ideas from stakeholders: outline project team roles and responsibilities; define the stakeholders; create a plan for meetings and run the meetings efficiently; collate requirements; gather team members’ ideas regarding the user audience, the user’s main scenarios and how well the current site meets the user needs.
      • Collaborate across agencies and within the organisation’s own agency to avoid duplication.
      • Identify other business requirements: assess the risk to stakeholders; define the system to use; identify and document the organisational environment; identify and document the technical environment and identify and document the physical environment.
  • D6. Conduct user research:
    • Knowledge about the intended users of a site is required in order to design that site in a UX perspective. To be successful, a UX process needs to consider user expectations and goals.
    • What to do:
      • Learn about the users:
        • What information and levels of knowledge about the subject matter are required.
        • Ways of working, planning, grouping and organising information.
        • Expectations about the site.
        • Levels of experience with the Web and similar types of sites.
        • Technology available to the potential users (Internet access, devices, physical environment).
        • Consult customer support to understand customer problems.
        • Techniques that are available include: usability testing, contextual interviews, surveys, individual interviews, focus groups and card sorting.
        • Collect analytics/trends about the website.
      • Define user groups:
        • Define the primary user groups.
        • Validate user group definitions.
        • Generate user requirements.
        • Create personas.
  • D7. Design the site:
    • When designing the site, requirements should be decided beforehand for features, functions and content of the site. The requirements and content help to design prototypes. The prototypes are evaluated and user feedback is collected. Next, the site is designed, including visual design and HTML. Evaluation and implementation then takes place in an iterative fashion. Accessibility guidelines must be implemented during these iterations.
    • What to do:
      • Collect the business requirements the user research/requirements (as above). Obtain content inventory (a list of all the content on a site).
      • Implement a content strategy. A content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of website content. For more information about the content strategy see the article by Jonathon Coleman “The Epic List of Content Strategy Resources”.
      • Identify and document user tasks and workflows. Available techniques include task analysis, scenarios, and use cases. Focus on top tasks.
      • Determine site structure and navigation. Available techniques include card sorting, sitemap, information architecture and wireframes.
      • Conduct search engine optimisation (SEO). Webpages should contain the details which search engines seek, to advance webpages in search results without the website owner having to pay for this ranking. This can be achieved by making good use of keywords; having an effective site structure; having a process for indexing a site; ensuring quality links and link popularity and managing search during and after a website redesign.
      • Develop prototypes. A prototype is a draft version of a website. Allow for the exploration of ideas before investing time and money into development.
      • Collect user feedback. Available techniques include surveys, questionnaires, usability testing, focus groups and interviews.
      • Design the site. The design consists of visual design and HTML prototyping. Visual design creates a detailed appearance by describing the colours, graphics, typography and screen layout of the user interface. HTML prototyping creates a standalone website/application that mimics the look and feel of the actual product, although it has limited functionality.
      • Evaluate the site. Available techniques include usability evaluations without users (observational evaluations, guideline based reviews, cognitive walkthroughs, expert reviews, heuristic evaluations) and usability evaluation with actual users (usability testing, eye tracking, interviews).
      • Develop the site. Development/programming can begin when webpage designs, information architecture, navigation menu and content are ready.
      • Implement accessibility guidelines. The World Wide Web Consortium has international Web Accessibility Guidelines that should be followed.
  • D8. Develop the site.
  • D9. Test and refine the site:
    • Evaluate the site to ensure that it continues to meet organisational and user needs.
    • What to do:
      • Evaluate the site (as above – D7).
      • Implement recommendations. The development team must implement the recommendations from the usability evaluations.
      • Retest. The site should be retested until usability goals are achieved.
  • D10. Launch the site:
    • Once the site has been designed, developed and tested, it can be made public.
    • What to do:
      • Create and establish the required social media accounts beforehand.
      • Do cross-browser checks. It is important that a site works across all browsers and that users do not encounter any problems. See the book by Nielsen and Loranger for cross-browser guidelines: “Prioritizing Web Usability”.
      • Proofread existing content.
      • Create a content plan. Have new content ready for at least a month.
      • Market the upcoming launch.
      • Plan design and implementation tasks for after the launch.
      • Check the technical details before going live. For example, check that all hyperlinks are working.
      • Launch on schedule.
  • D11. Deliver support after the launch:
    • The necessary support needs to be provided for the live system. These activities are not necessarily activities to be conducted by a UX team, but are necessary in the process.
    • What to do:
      • Implement change management. Change management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of change to achieve the required business outcomes in the relevant context while not discarding user participation.
      • User training. Certain systems/websites may require users to be trained.
      • Customer support, such as telephone, e-mail or online support needs to be provided.
      • Determine impact on organisation and stakeholders.
      • Collect analytics. Website analytics give insight into the users of the site (see Phase F: Long-term: metrics). Google Analytics is an excellent tool to use.
      • Work through iterations.

The steps listed above can be conducted in an iterative fashion where appropriate.

View the other Institutionalise UX methodology phases:

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