Our UX team functions as the internal design agency for the IT practice of a global enterprise. I analyzed the state of design in the organization and formalized our process with an eye toward maturing the company’s overall design practice.
The process takes inspiration from the Design Maturity Continuum, conceived by Jess McCullen at Situ, which is a spectrum that describes the depth at which a program or company is thinking about design. We needed a process that accommodates the different degrees of expectations that stakeholders have about design. We learned that it is fruitless to try to reframe the problem at the deepest level if the key stakeholders are expecting a stylistic change to a solidified idea.
For us, there were three points on the DMC that function as Levels of Engagement:
- UI Design: Stylistic and cosmetic changes to existing visual work
- Problem-Solving: Explore fresh options within a contained problem space
- Framing: Rethink the nature of the problem
Our process has three phases: Ask, Define, Create.
In ADC, research is not one explicit step, but a mindset that flows through the whole process. We talk to the necessary people, present them with the necessary prototypes, and validate assumptions based on need. We approach research with the following principles:
- Be specific about what you’re trying to learn before doing research.
- Ask specific and actionable questions (the responses need to give us a direction).
- What people say is different from what they do. Usability tests should focus on observing behavior. Always look for why, not just what.
- Focus on timeless research: “Timeless research is…about building long-term organizational knowledge and curating what you’ve already learned.”