There has been a lot of debate of late about what a designer does and doesn’t do and what they need to know and don’t need to know. Since context is such an important variable to all this I offer this attempt to reduce what is the core of what a UX Designer needs to know how to do and what they do throughout the product lifecycle. To be honest I left out the strategic components because for most of us, this isn’t our reality, so it is not core to what we do. I also see strategy coming out of solid design, not something added to it.
What do designers need to know how to do to add the most value to the product and service organizations we work for?
- Have the set of tools and be experts at using them to discover the behaviors and motivations of the stakeholders who will be interacting with the systems we are designing with the goal of framing problems and discovering opportunities for the organizations we work for.
- Be able to use visual tools at low and high fidelity to harness their creativity to synthesize a multiplicity of concepts aimed at capitalizing on the opportunities discovered by doing #1. One of the goals here are to craft design principles for the entire cross functional team to follow.
- Architect the structures, paths, principles of content that lead stakeholders using the system from entry to understanding to finding meaning and value.
- Take concepts from #2 added to the frameworks of #3 and drive deeper into them by creating simulations embedded in the stories of human situations from #1 with the goal of refining designs into plans that can be validated and executed upon.
- Explore the properties of proposed systems through simulations of appropriate fidelity so as to experience possible futures. Refine these explorations towards a prototype that acts as the plan for execution and deployment.
- Collaborate with those who execute on designs, to ensure that quality is maintained, lessons learned can be framed into viable changes that don’t conflict with core design principles from #2. As lessons are always learned during production periods that lead to necessary changes.
Throughout all 6 steps there is a constant need to bring in stakeholders at all levels to not just validate outcomes but to contribute to their creation.
[This is a small part of a larger article about the need for UX designers to learn how to code or not ... It's 4000 words, so I don't know what/where to put it.]