Nice to meet you, user. I’m the [insert project role].
This is where we start talking about solutions, the how. How can we best solve our users’ problems based on what we think we know about them? The process is iterative and a lot of roles are involved but a basic information architecture, the concept, should be settled before any graphic design or copywriting is begun.
Once the foundation is laid, the solution phase involves documentation, wireframes, prototypes, mood boards and art direction, design mockups, sample texts, sample photos and so on from all kinds of project roles. After that we’re off to implementation.
Projects are collaborative, and user experience design must be too. User research and user insight is little worth if it cannot be understood by everyone involved in a project; the graphic designer, the illustrators, animators, speakers, copywriters and project managers. What we think we know about our users should influence every design decision. Design patterns and praxis needs to be validated against our assumptions.
Image by Scott Adams, Dilbert.com
I am not a copywriter, but I write content strategies which declares which questions the different pages, copys and strings needs to answer, and for whom. A content strategy should also outline how you should work with continuous editorial content. Why are we writing articles for? Clients tend to be too outreaching and publishing news with little or no thought on which user story the content should accommodate. If you cant figure out who should read your post or why, and how it is relevant to your business, don’t post it.
I am not a graphic designer, but I create wireframes and documentation which gives weight to different pieces of the information and interactions which a graphic designer can use in information design.
I am not a system architect, but I write briefs and attend meetings with developers to find the best solution for all possible scenarios and edge cases.
I am not an account manager, but I can help the sales force motivate project costs and plans towards the client, why the project will do better if we eliminate all risks and answer all questions before we implement, why it is crucial to do user research no regardless of their preconceived ideas about the result. I can also, and prefer to, present and defend our concept and our design decisions to the client.
I am not a project manager, but I can help define and estimate the different phases of my work and the overhead of concept maintenance. The actual project manager needs to fully understand user-centric design, or get out of the way of the design process and simply work with removing obstacles so the team can work unhindered.
I am an advocate. If your project organisation is mature towards user-centric design, getting people involved with users might be easy. If not, you need to appoint a service owner who is. I often get to defend and advocate for users through whole projects, fighting of irrelevant feature requests that add no value for the user, and assuring quality of delivery from different roles in different phases of a project, which I quite enjoy.