Understanding the user and what they’re trying to accomplish is at the core of our development process here at BitBakery.
Our clients trust us to provide complete tech teams to build their MVP – minimum viable product. When we tackle these projects, we put the user at the center of our process. This ensures we’ve got the right problems identified before we start designing.
Whether you call it human-centred design or design thinking, it’s a straightforward way of doing discovery that we use on every project.
In my intro post, I shared with you that I’m starting my journey to learn as much about user experience design as I can. My role as a Software QA Engineer gives me a chance to work with our head of design and our developers. I get to see the entire design and development process unfold – and help shape some of the decisions we make.
Here’s a few of my takeaways so far –
Know who you’re designing for
One of the first steps in the discovery phase is creating personas. These are representations of users – and can include their education, family background, likes/dislikes and more. Personas are meant to represent groups of users. A great design will target the right users, most of the time, not the entire world.
Research here is crucial. We want to get the most accurate and reliable representation of the users that will use the product. We take a look at the product market to get a better profile of what ideal users could be.
We work with our clients in creating the personas. Together, we iterate potential personas until we have a good set to work with. This helps us optimize for the right users by using their insights into their business and industry.
Keep your user stories simple
Creating personas is the foundation. With well-developed personas, we can move on to researching and identifying the right problems. To do this, we start with larger problems called epics and then start to break those down using our personas.
When writing epics, it is important to keep them simple while still describing the core of the users’ needs. “You’re not describing a solution you are describing the need of the user”, said Attila Schmidt, our Director of User Experience and Interface. Here’s a look at the hierarchy we use when writing out epics:
Epics should be high-level so we can group similar tasks together to start identifying problems. These epics are then broken down into user stories. User stories focus more in-depth about why a user may have a certain need:
User stories must also be simple enough to allow for developer creativity. If you give too much detail, you are limiting the possible solutions. “We, as designers, may have an idea of how we would like to see a feature, but we would be taking away the possibility of getting a much better method thought out by developers,” Schmidt said.
Our developers then take these stories and create sub-tasks. They describe specific features that will become the puzzle pieces of the product. This is typically where our developers come up with innovative and optimized solutions!
Never stop learning
The discovery process is more than just identifying the problems – and it doesn’t end when development begins. The process helps drive open and consistent communication between our clients and our team of developers, designers, and QA teams. At BitBakery we make it a priority to keep everyone up to date throughout the duration of the project.
I recently attended a talk about how design teams can leverage other teams to change design culture by Matt Rae. What stood out to me the most is having the entire team involved during the design iteration process. This is key, everyone involved in the tech team can give valuable feedback. Such feedback will not only serve well for the current project but for subsequent ones as well.
Talks like these really stand out to me. They always push us to improve our tech team environment. Together, with our clients, we can always try to optimize our product development.
If this sparked as much interest to you as it did for me, I suggest attending community talks. There are amazing UX community initiatives here in the Waterloo Region. Here are some of my regulars:
UXWaterloo – by Communitech P2P
UX Book Club
Shopify Tech Talks
So, say hello if you see me at one of these. Until next time!
Keep updated on my journey here at BitBakery.