So much goes into planning a website.
There are several methods to help you design a website: journey maps, empathy maps, site maps, user flows, personas, content, UX and UI audits…
It's easy to become overwhelmed and confused—making a product as simple as it needs to be is not easy. While these methods provide us with a solid foundation to inform the final product, the process needs to be pieced together in a cohesive way to be practical. Do you need to curate a set of personas or create an empathy map? Both? How do you audit UX? How do you know where to begin? Knowing the goals of the project helps.
“What is the main goal of the product? What do we know right now? What are our unknowns?”
I prefer to start by asking a few questions: What is the main goal of the product? What do we know right now? What are our unknowns? This helps me find the gaps in the project and sets me down a solid path of discovery. The number one question being, "What is the main goal?" Everything else supports the main goal — "What do we know right now about solving for our goal?" or "What do we need to learn more about in-order-to support our goal?"
Writing your answers down helps. Use the documentation method that works best for you and your team. (I tend to gravitate towards a whiteboard.) Getting the work out into the wild helps create a collaborative lay of the land with the larger team vs. dumping your brain on the team at once.
The product's goals should guide your process. For example, "The main goal of this redesign is to increase app downloads through our marketing site. Let's start by exploring user flows and conducting a UI audit. After we have a sense of how the site is functioning currently we can establish personas and journey maps to help improve the gaps in our design. Then we can move on to prototypes and hi-def comps." That's an oversimplified example, but you get the concept. Try to not follow a process just because one exists, strive to craft a process around solving problems and meeting product goals.
“Clients will appreciate that your process directly supports their objectives throughout the project and your deliverables will be more informed.”
Your clients will appreciate that your process directly supports their objectives throughout the project and your deliverables will be more informed as a result. There’s quite a bit out there on what is referred to as “Goal-driven Design” if you’re interested in taking a deeper dive. We’ll also be writing more on goal-driven design in the Sidecar journal for 2016. Until then, be well.