6 Steps for Translating User Research into an Exceptional User Experience Design

We value user research and other methods to understand your users and always recommend it to our clients as the first step in the user experience process. But, how do you take all that new knowledge and translate it into an experience design that meets or exceeds your user’s expectations?

In the UX process, there are steps between doing the User Research in the Discovery phase, and creating wireframes in the Design phase to interpret the research data and turn that into a useful, usable, and delightful design for your users.


Once you (or someone else) have done the research and analysis in the Discovery phase, here are 5 methods to help you translate the research into an amazing and intuitive design

1. Create Personas, then and Prioritize them
Personas are a tremendous method to distill and visualize your research findings. A good persona will tell you a lot of what you need to know to design the new experience around the user’s needs. A good persona should include behavioral insights and not just a description of the user’s personality and demographics. See my post 5 signs you are not creating effective personas for tips on how to create personas.

After filling in all the details, an exercise to prioritize which personas you are targeting to design for can help to narrow the scope of your project, or to ensure that the most important personas can easily get their work done or find the information they are looking for. This is a good exercise to do with the project team including the business, user experience, visual design, content creators and even the technology team so everyone is on the same page.

2. Write Scenarios and Task Flows
If you need to go a little deeper than the Persona, writing out scenarios and documenting task flows can clarify the exact steps and some of the background and context around what the user is doing. Scenarios are nothing more than a story that gives context to the tasks they are performing. A task flow can be a simple diagram of the tasks the user does, with some color commentary and questions along the way.

Creating scenarios and task flows are immensely helpful on projects where there is limited research, or you didn’t personally conduct the research. Keep in mind you will definitely have to usability test your designs if the user research was light or non-existent. I will always recommend doing research with the actual target customers before doing design, but I know this is not always feasible in the real world. To write the scenarios, gather the research you have, get a group together that includes the researcher, product manager and any other subject matter experts that are knowledgeable about the users or current state and write out some scenarios and task flows.

3. Map the User’s Journey
To go a little further than scenarios, create a user journey. The user journey is a collection of tasks and scenarios, but with the addition of insights from the qualitative research and quantitative metrics. Your user journey can include scenarios to give context, or be a summary of the user’s actions and behaviors. Creating user journeys are especially beneficial for designing an experience that has many steps and can take more than a single visit to your app or website or happens across multiple touchpoints over time. They also greatly complement your personas in giving the project team a one-page visualization of the customer’s perspective. See my post on How to use journey Maps to design digital experiences.

4. Gather some Inspiration
Once you have your understanding of the user’s needs in focus, you can start preparing to design. Whether your competitive analysis is formal or not, spending some time looking at what others are doing and gather lots of examples can help focus your design discussions, brainstorming sessions or design thinking workshops. I prefer to always look for innovative ways people are solving problems, gather lots of different design patterns that could be used – even from experiences that have nothing to do with the one you are working on. You can spark a new idea or metaphor to inspire the design. Some of the places I go to help find examples besides just looking at websites I use regularly are: webbyawards.com, dribble.com, UI-patterns.com

5. Create a Site Map or Screen Flows
Designing the overall flow or organization of the content and features will help you see the big picture of what you are trying to design. Always keep in mind the user’s goal in the process, it is sometimes hard not to get bogged down in the details of the business constraints, technical constraints, etc.

For sites and applications that are content heavy, require marketing messaging, helpful articles, or even for feature heavy sites, creating a content strategy diagram can be a helpful way to prioritize the content and features on your pages. It is simply a concept of the page with placeholders for the different content and features on the page. When creating wireframes, sometimes we go directly to a higher fidelity.

6. Create Interaction Concepts and/or a Content Strategy
Pick some design patterns and interaction metaphors and create some concepts. Sketch, review, revise! This can be done in a collaborative design thinking workshop, or on your own.

Don’t forget to get user feedback and revise!

We value user research and other methods to understand your users and always recommend it to our clients as the first step in the user experience process. But, how do you take all that new knowledge and translate it into an experience design that meets or exceeds your user’s expectations?

In the UX process, there are steps between doing the User Research in the Discovery phase, and creating wireframes in the Design phase to interpret the research data and turn that into a useful, usable, and delightful design for your users.


Once you (or someone else) have done the research and analysis in the Discovery phase, here are 5 methods to help you translate the research into an amazing and intuitive design

1. Create Personas, then and Prioritize them
Personas are a tremendous method to distill and visualize your research findings. A good persona will tell you a lot of what you need to know to design the new experience around the user’s needs. A good persona should include behavioral insights and not just a description of the user’s personality and demographics. See my post 5 signs you are not creating effective personas for tips on how to create personas.

After filling in all the details, an exercise to prioritize which personas you are targeting to design for can help to narrow the scope of your project, or to ensure that the most important personas can easily get their work done or find the information they are looking for. This is a good exercise to do with the project team including the business, user experience, visual design, content creators and even the technology team so everyone is on the same page.

2. Write Scenarios and Task Flows
If you need to go a little deeper than the Persona, writing out scenarios and documenting task flows can clarify the exact steps and some of the background and context around what the user is doing. Scenarios are nothing more than a story that gives context to the tasks they are performing. A task flow can be a simple diagram of the tasks the user does, with some color commentary and questions along the way.

Creating scenarios and task flows are immensely helpful on projects where there is limited research, or you didn’t personally conduct the research. Keep in mind you will definitely have to usability test your designs if the user research was light or non-existent. I will always recommend doing research with the actual target customers before doing design, but I know this is not always feasible in the real world. To write the scenarios, gather the research you have, get a group together that includes the researcher, product manager and any other subject matter experts that are knowledgeable about the users or current state and write out some scenarios and task flows.

3. Map the User’s Journey
To go a little further than scenarios, create a user journey. The user journey is a collection of tasks and scenarios, but with the addition of insights from the qualitative research and quantitative metrics. Your user journey can include scenarios to give context, or be a summary of the user’s actions and behaviors. Creating user journeys are especially beneficial for designing an experience that has many steps and can take more than a single visit to your app or website or happens across multiple touchpoints over time. They also greatly complement your personas in giving the project team a one-page visualization of the customer’s perspective. See my post on How to use journey Maps to design digital experiences.

4. Gather some Inspiration
Once you have your understanding of the user’s needs in focus, you can start preparing to design. Whether your competitive analysis is formal or not, spending some time looking at what others are doing and gather lots of examples can help focus your design discussions, brainstorming sessions or design thinking workshops. I prefer to always look for innovative ways people are solving problems, gather lots of different design patterns that could be used – even from experiences that have nothing to do with the one you are working on. You can spark a new idea or metaphor to inspire the design. Some of the places I go to help find examples besides just looking at websites I use regularly are: webbyawards.com, dribble.com, UI-patterns.com

5. Create a Site Map or Screen Flows
Designing the overall flow or organization of the content and features will help you see the big picture of what you are trying to design. Always keep in mind the user’s goal in the process, it is sometimes hard not to get bogged down in the details of the business constraints, technical constraints, etc.

For sites and applications that are content heavy, require marketing messaging, helpful articles, or even for feature heavy sites, creating a content strategy diagram can be a helpful way to prioritize the content and features on your pages. It is simply a concept of the page with placeholders for the different content and features on the page. When creating wireframes, sometimes we go directly to a higher fidelity.

6. Create Interaction Concepts and/or a Content Strategy
Pick some design patterns and interaction metaphors and create some concepts. Sketch, review, revise! This can be done in a collaborative design thinking workshop, or on your own.

Don’t forget to get user feedback and revise!

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2018-03-23T12:49:57+00:00