5 steps from idea to design

What if you have a great idea. And you want to do it on the best way you can. And you believe in User Centered Design methods. What are the steps to make it till you have a design that can be developed.

1. Your product (or service)

Why is your product in the market? Does it solve a particular need for business or for costumers? You sell it for people, no matter what your answer is. One way to investigate what your product is, is the use of a SWOT matrix (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats.
When you have done the matrix you want to know what your competitors are doing. Using the same matrix will help you understand why people come to you, instead of the competitor.
You also could investigate what is happening on social media. There are tools that can help you, to have an overview of your media landscape. Especially for your online marketing activities.

2. Your user

After you understand your product better, what can you do? Yes, understand your user better. What can you do?
a. Ask the user to participate in an interview
b. Visit the user and user contextual research
c. Send an online questionnaire
When asking the right (and the right way) questions, you gather the information and create an empathy map. Now you get a clear thought about who your user actually is. What are thier pains and gains? This can help you to design a better coherence between your product/service and the person that gives your money for it.

3. The interaction

Now that you know the user better, you should design the interaction between your product or service and the user. That’s were the value is for the business and the user. That’s were the magic is happening.
In time, the user has contact with your product, services and support. Any way of contact with your business is a contact moment. In the Design Thinking culture we call that Touch points. When does the user has contact with…you.
You can make a Journey map for this. The main question for creating this is; what do you want to know? Some of these questions could be:

What happens when the user subscribes for the newsletter and how can we trigger the user to come to our local store?

When someone bought a product/service and how can we facilitate (in time) the best way?

What channels do I (and my user) use to communicate with my users and why, when and how does the user make use of it?

You also could use the Point of view template. This way you can make small user story’s. The template are 3 column’s with; 1. the user. 2. the need 3. Insight.

There are multiple user research methods on the market, but when to use what research method is sometimes more important than just doing one.

4. Prototype the idea

Ok, now you are ready with the user research part, and understand the user much better. Let’s start with a prototype and figure out how you would like to design your product or service. What kind of resources do you need to complete a prototype that you can compare with a real end-product depends on the product or service you are offering or the user suspects you to offer. A prototype can never be the real end product, for it is intended to be test material. You will get rid of the first insights you get from user testing or from your own team.

5. Test your product

before launching the product, why not check how it will work in the “real world”. If you didn’t do contextual research in the beginning you will find situations you didn’t think of first.
Testing your product is something you can do on a regular basis. Understanding what is happening and when, is the first step in controlling the interaction.
Online software company’s do a/b testing a lot or even work with user profiles and adjust the interaction real time.
Testing can also be an observation or questionnaire.