When I’m referring to design inputs, I include the visual components necessary for thorough and robust design experiences.
Two considerations form these inputs:
- Profiles or personas
- Customer journeys or scenarios.
Profiles and personas help frame which user behaviors are necessary to consider in your ultimate experience, while scenarios and journeys provide the different paths a user may take to accomplish a task within the experience. Keep in mind, journeys are not one single channel experiences, most of the time we’re talking about cross channels journeys.
Design inputs — Profiles or personas
There’s a fundamental building block of UX related with understanding of your target audience:
- Who are they?
- Where are they?
- How will they use your solution
- What do you know about them?
- Those people are current users/clients?
- What are their expectations about your product/service?
- How they feel with current UX?
- They can solve current needs/issues?
If you want to design successful user-centered solutions, profiles and personas provide a helpful understanding of how your user is critical.
Frequently, though, one of the bigger challenges with respect to understanding your target user is not the lack of information about users, but the challenge of prioritizing all the information you know about users.
For example, for most solutions, not all users are equally important. It’s important that you document which type of user may be your top priority.
User information is typically distilled into simple and digestible formats, called user profiles or personas.
Personas help to bring to life the target user for your solution, highlight mission-critical information about that user, and strip away the unnecessary details.
You use these personas throughout the entire project lifecycle.
Design inputs — Scenarios and journeys
To help bring a prospective solution to life, a persona is typically paired with a scenario or a user journey (where are they).
Scenarios tell a simple story of the process a target user goes through, and how your new solution is used along the way.
The user journey, similarly, tells a story, but it’s typically a higher-level story, with broader reach and impact.
Keep in mind your final users don’t move around one single channel, so the journey will be focused in an open wide.
Avoid those ideas about to work in silos with one single channel because most of the times users comes from another channel and you need to be prepared to attend them according to that.
Design inputs — Brand guidelines
You will want to understand any brand requirements your organization may have, because these may impact the eventual user experience.
In some cases, such as a small business building an entirely new website, no brand guidelines may exist.
For larger companies, these guidelines typically come in the form of brand guidelines, which outline color palettes, logo usage, and fonts, among other details.
For smaller projects and smaller businesses, it’s helpful to identify and assess any existing collateral that will help inform the visual look and feel you will be creating.
This information can be in the form of printed brochures, corporate identity, or even product specifications.
Again, avoid those ideas about to do your job in silos and try to work on re-utilization of previous visual components coming from other projects, so far one the best ways to reduce cost and time in a project is re-utilization.
Design inputs — Experience models
And finally, one last artifact that is critical for larger, more complex UX engagements is the experience model.
The experience model aims to document the entire life cycle of an experience, stepping back from any one moment during the process, or any one website, application, or tool.
The experience model is a critical tool for the overall understanding of users, and how all the products, services, marketing, and communications can fit into how users experience your world.
For example, experience models could help define the overarching process mothers go through in having children: whether from adoption, surrogacy, or becoming pregnant, to preparing for new babies within their lives, and possibly repeating the process.
It is the highest-level model of all our artifacts, going more broadly than scenarios and journeys.
The same experience model can be used by business for years, without the need to update or modify them, while scenarios and journeys typically need updating as technology, tools, and behaviors evolve.