View from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon

Image: View from inside the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon

As we look at the techniques and practices used within the product & user experience discipline, we can look at the macro level concepts of: Understand, Define, and Validate. These are considered by many, the basis of the framework for product and user experience design. 

Delving into the micro-level we will begin to understand some of the processes used within the industry to build engaging user experiences. 

These steps are presented as an overview or high-level set of definitions for those interested in product design. There are layers of understanding underneath each and every item presented, but to begin with a journey, we must start with that first step. Outlining these key concepts is merely that first step for the reader. 

We will begin this journey through the first phase, Understand, and follow up this post with the Define and Validate concepts in subsequent posts. 

Understand

Quantitative research is a type of research that uses numerical data to answer research questions or test hypotheses.



In quantitative research, data is collected through structured and standardized methods such as surveys, experiments, or observation. The data is then analyzed using statistical methods to identify patterns, relationships, or differences between groups.



The results of quantitative research are usually presented in the form of tables, charts, or graphs, which make it easier to visualize and communicate the findings. Quantitative research aims to provide objective and generalizable results, which means that the findings can be applied to a larger population beyond the sample that was studied.



Overall, quantitative research is a valuable tool for understanding complex phenomena and making data-driven decisions.


Quantative Survey

Performing a quantitative survey in product design can be broken down into several steps:

  1. Define the research question: Clearly define the problem or question you want to answer with your survey. This will guide the creation of your survey questions and help you identify your target population.
  2. Create a survey instrument: Design your survey questions, making sure they are clear, unbiased, and easy to understand. You can use a survey tool such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create your survey.
  3. Identify your target population: Define the group of people you want to survey. This could be current or potential users of your product, or a representative sample of the general population.
  4. Recruit participants: Reach out to potential participants and invite them to take your survey. This could be done through email, social media, or in-person recruiting.
  5. Administer the survey: Distribute the survey to participants, either online or in-person. Provide clear instructions on how to complete the survey and a deadline for completion.
  6. Collect and analyze data: Collect the survey responses and use statistical techniques to analyze the data. This could include calculating frequencies, percentages, means, and standard deviations.
  7. Interpret and report results: Interpret the findings of your survey and report them in a clear and concise way. This could include creating tables, charts, or graphs to visually represent the data.

It is important to ensure that the survey is designed with a high level of rigor and is tested to ensure that it meets the intended goals. It is also important to ensure that the survey is administered in an ethical manner and that the participant’s privacy is protected.

Funnel Analysis

Funnel analysis in product design is a method used to track and analyze user behavior as they move through a series of steps or stages in a process. It can be used to identify areas of the product where users are dropping off, or where they are experiencing difficulty completing a task. It can also be used to measure the effectiveness of various design elements and features.

To perform a funnel analysis in product design, you can follow these steps:

  1. Identify the key stages of the process: Define the key stages of the process or task that users will go through in the product. This could include stages such as signing up for an account, adding items to a cart, or completing a purchase.
  2. Track user behavior: Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics to track user behavior as they move through the stages of the process. This can include information such as the number of users who reach a specific stage, the time it takes for them to complete a stage, and the number of users who drop off at a specific stage.
  3. Analyze the data: Use the data collected to identify areas of the product where users are dropping off or experiencing difficulty. Look for patterns or trends in the data to help you understand why users may be dropping off at a specific stage.
  4. Identify and test solutions: Based on the analysis, identify potential solutions to improve the user experience and increase the completion rate. These solutions could include redesigning a specific feature, adding a new feature, or providing more guidance or instructions.
  5. Implement and retest: Implement the solutions identified in step 4 and retest to see if they have improved the user experience and increased the completion rate.
  6. Iterate: Continuously monitor and track user behavior and iterate on the design based on the findings.

It’s important to note that performing a funnel analysis requires a significant amount of data, so it is important to ensure that the analytics tool you are using is set up correctly and is capturing the necessary data. It’s also important to be aware of potential biases that might affect the results, such as sampling bias.

Data Analysis Report

A data analysis report in product design is a document that summarizes the findings of an analysis of data collected from user research, testing, or analytics. The report is used to communicate the results of the analysis to stakeholders and inform design decisions. The report typically includes information such as the research question, the methods used to collect and analyze the data, the key findings, and recommendations for next steps.

A data analysis report typically includes the following sections:

  1. Executive Summary: A brief overview of the research question, the methods used, and the key findings.
  2. Research question: A clear statement of the problem or question that the data analysis is trying to answer.
  3. Methods: A description of the methods used to collect and analyze the data, including the sample size, the data collection instruments, and the statistical techniques used.
  4. Results: A presentation of the key findings from the data analysis, including tables, charts, or graphs to visually represent the data.
  5. Discussion: A interpretation of the results and an explanation of the implications for the product design.
  6. Conclusion: A summary of the key findings and recommendations for next steps.
  7. References: A list of sources used in the report.

It is important to ensure that the report is written in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand manner and that the data is presented in a way that is accessible to non-technical stakeholders. It’s also important to ensure that the report is written in an objective and unbiased manner and that the data is presented in a way that allows readers to make their own conclusions.

Marketing Analysis

Marketing analysis in product design is a method used to understand the target market, identify customer needs and preferences, and evaluate the competitive landscape. It is an important step in the product design process that helps inform the development of a product that meets the needs of the target market and differentiates it from competitors.

To perform marketing analysis in product design, you can follow these steps:

  1. Define the target market: Identify the specific group of customers that the product is intended for, including demographic information such as age, gender, income, and education level.
  2. Conduct market research: Collect data on the target market through a variety of methods, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, and secondary research (such as analyzing industry reports and competitor analysis).
  3. Identify customer needs and preferences: Use the data collected to identify the needs and preferences of the target market. This could include information such as the features they are looking for in a product, their pain points, and their decision-making process.
  4. Evaluate the competitive landscape: Research and analyze the products and services offered by competitors. This could include information such as their pricing strategy, target market, and key differentiators.
  5. Synthesize the data: Use the data collected to identify market trends and opportunities. This could include identifying unmet needs or pain points in the market, or identifying areas where the product can differentiate itself from competitors.
  6. Use the insights to inform the product design: Use the insights gained from the market analysis to inform the product design. This could include incorporating features that address the needs and preferences of the target market, or differentiating the product in a way that sets it apart from competitors.

It’s important to note that market analysis is an iterative process and should be conducted at various stages of the product development process. It’s also important to be aware of potential biases that might affect the results, such as sampling bias.

Qualitative

Qualitative research is a type of research that focuses on exploring and understanding the subjective experiences and perspectives of individuals or groups.

In qualitative research, data is collected through methods such as interviews, focus groups, or observation, and the data is analyzed using interpretive methods such as coding and thematic analysis. The goal of qualitative research is to generate descriptive and nuanced findings that capture the complexity of the phenomena being studied.

The results of qualitative research are usually presented in the form of quotes, narratives, or themes, which convey the richness and depth of the data. Qualitative research aims to provide a deep and holistic understanding of the research topic, which means that the findings are context-dependent and cannot be easily generalized to other populations.

Overall, qualitative research is a valuable tool for exploring and understanding complex phenomena from the perspective of those experiencing it. It can provide insights that quantitative research may miss, and it can be used to generate new hypotheses or theories for future research.

Focus Groups

A focus group is a technique that can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing them with an opportunity to gather feedback and insights from a group of users or potential customers. A focus group is a moderated discussion or interview with a group of people who have been selected based on certain criteria such as demographics, interests or behaviors. The group is led by a moderator who poses questions or topics for discussion, and the participants are encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions.

During a focus group, the product design team can ask the participants questions about their needs, pain points, and preferences related to the product or service they are designing. They can also ask participants to provide feedback on specific features, designs, or prototypes of the product. The participants can also share their opinions on what features they would like to see in a product and what they find important in a product. This feedback can be used to guide the product design process and make informed decisions about the design of the product.

The main benefit of focus group is that it allows the product design team to gain a deeper understanding of the user’s perspective, needs, and wants. It also allows them to gather feedback from a diverse group of users, which can help to identify patterns and trends in user behavior and preferences. Additionally, focus groups provide an opportunity for the product design team to observe the users’ verbal and non-verbal responses, which can help them to better understand the users’ emotional reactions to the product.

User Feedback

User feedback can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing them with direct insight into how users interact with and experience their product. User feedback can come in many forms, including surveys, interviews, and reviews.

For example, a product design team can use surveys to gather feedback from users on specific aspects of the product such as its design, usability, or functionality. Surveys can be used to gather both quantitative and qualitative data, and can be sent to a large number of users. The feedback collected from surveys can help the product design team to identify patterns and trends in user behavior and preferences.

Interviews are another way to gather user feedback, and provide a more in-depth understanding of the user’s perspective, needs, and wants. Through interviews, the product design team can ask users open-ended questions about their experience with the product, and can observe their verbal and non-verbal responses, which can provide a deeper understanding of their emotional reactions to the product.

Online reviews from users, can also provide valuable feedback on a product’s strengths and weaknesses, they can give a quick and easy feedback on the product’s performance, usability and user-friendliness.

User feedback can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing them with direct insight into how users interact with and experience their product. User feedback can come in many forms, including surveys, interviews, and reviews. This feedback can help the product design team to identify patterns and trends in user behavior and preferences, and gain a deeper understanding of the user’s perspective, needs, and wants, which can inform the product design process and make informed decisions about the design of the product.

Empathy Mapping

Empathy mapping is a technique that can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing them with a deeper understanding of the user’s needs, wants, and pain points. Empathy mapping is a visual tool that helps teams to understand and document user behavior, attitudes, and emotions. It is often used to identify user needs and insights during the early stages of product design.

The process of empathy mapping involves creating a visual map that includes four key elements:

  • User’s thoughts and feelings,
  • User’s pain points,
  • User’s needs and wants,
  • User’s behavior and actions.

The product design team can gather qualitative data through user research methods such as interviews, surveys, or observation, and then use that data to create an empathy map. This map can be used as a tool to help the team to understand the user’s perspective, and to identify patterns and trends in user behavior and preferences.

Once the empathy map is completed, the product design team can use it to generate new ideas for product features and design. For example, if the empathy map reveals that users have a pain point related to a specific task, the team can brainstorm ways to improve the user experience for that task.

Empathy mapping is a powerful tool that can help a product design team to understand qualitative data by providing them with a deeper understanding of the user’s perspective, and by identifying patterns and trends in user behavior and preferences. This can help the team to make informed decisions about the design of the product and to create a product that better meets the needs of the user.

Card Sorting

Card sorting is a technique that can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing them with a deeper understanding of how users organize and categorize information. Card sorting is a method of organizing and grouping information into categories based on user feedback and perception. It is often used to help design navigation systems and information architecture for websites, mobile apps, and other digital products.

The process of card sorting typically involves creating a set of cards, each representing a piece of content or functionality, and then asking users to sort these cards into categories that make sense to them. The users can be asked to come up with their own category labels, or they can be given a list of pre-defined categories to choose from. The resulting data is used to understand how users think about and organize the content or functionality, and can be used to inform the design of the navigation and information architecture of the product.

Card sorting can be done in different ways, such as:

  • Open Card Sorting: Participants are asked to sort a set of cards into categories and to name the categories.
  • Closed Card Sorting: Participants are asked to sort a set of cards into pre-defined categories.
  • Hybrid Card Sorting: Participants are asked to sort a set of cards into categories and are allowed to create new categories as well as select from pre-defined categories.

The product design team can analyze the data collected from card sorting to identify patterns and trends in user behavior and preferences. This can help the team to understand how users think about and organize the content or functionality, and can inform the design of the navigation and information architecture of the product.

User Interviews

User interviews are a technique that can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing them with a deeper understanding of the user’s needs, wants, and pain points. User interviews are conducted with the goal of gathering information about the user’s perspective on a product, service, or experience. They can be used to gather information on a wide range of topics, including user needs, wants, pain points, behaviors, attitudes, and preferences.

The process of conducting user interviews typically involves the following steps:

  • Define the research objectives and questions
  • Identify and recruit participants
  • Conduct the interviews
  • Analyze and interpret the data

During the interviews, the product design team can ask open-ended questions to elicit detailed and rich information about the user’s perspective. The team can also ask follow-up questions to clarify or expand on the user’s responses.

The product design team can analyze the data collected from user interviews to identify patterns and trends in user behavior and preferences. They can use this information to understand the user’s perspective on the product, service, or experience and to identify areas for improvement. The team can also use the data to generate new ideas for product features and design.

User interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video conferencing. The team can conduct one-on-one interviews, or group interviews with several users at once. User interviews are an important tool for gathering qualitative data, as they allow the product design team to understand the user’s perspective in their own words and to identify patterns and trends in user behavior and preferences.

Storyboards

Storyboards can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing a visual representation of the user’s experience and journey. Storyboards are a visual tool that is used to map out the user’s experience and journey with a product, service, or experience. They can be used to map out various scenarios and use cases, and to identify potential pain points and opportunities for improvement.

The process of creating a storyboard typically involves the following steps:

  • Identify the user’s journey and scenarios
  • Create a visual representation of each scenario
  • Add annotations and notes to explain the user’s thoughts, emotions, and actions

Storyboards can be created in different ways, for example:

  • Digital storyboards: using software tools to create interactive storyboards that can be shared and reviewed by the team.
  • Hand-drawn storyboards: using paper and pen to create storyboards that can be physically manipulated and discussed.

Storyboards can be used to visualize the user’s journey from start to finish, and to identify potential pain points and opportunities for improvement. They can be used to identify areas where the user’s experience may be confusing, frustrating, or difficult, and to identify areas where the user’s experience can be improved.

The product design team can analyze the storyboards to understand the user’s experience and journey. They can use this information to identify areas for improvement and to generate new ideas for product features and design. Storyboards can also be used to communicate the user’s experience and journey to stakeholders and to get their feedback.

Moodboards

Moodboards can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing a visual representation of the user’s desired aesthetic, style, and emotional state. A moodboard is a visual tool that is used to collect and organize images, colors, and other design elements that evoke a certain mood or emotion. They can be used to help the team understand the user’s desired aesthetic, style, and emotional state, and to create a visual representation of the user’s preferences and goals.

The process of creating a moodboard typically involves the following steps:

  • Identify the user’s aesthetic, style, and emotional state
  • Collect images, colors, and other design elements that evoke the desired mood or emotion
  • Organize the images, colors, and other design elements on a board

The product design team can analyze the moodboard to understand the user’s desired aesthetic, style, and emotional state. They can use this information to create a visual representation of the user’s preferences and goals, and to identify areas for improvement. The team can also use the moodboard to communicate the user’s preferences and goals to stakeholders and to get their feedback.

Moodboards can be used to explore different design directions and to make design decisions that align with the user’s preferences and goals. They can also be used to create a consistent visual language across different product features and design elements.

User Diaries

User diaries can help a product design team understand qualitative data by providing insights into the user’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors over time. A user diary is a tool used to collect qualitative data on how a user interacts with a product, service, or experience over a period of time. Users are asked to keep a diary of their experiences and to document their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they use the product.

The process of collecting user diary data typically involves the following steps:

  • Identify the user’s goals and objectives
  • Provide the user with a diary and instructions on how to document their experiences
  • Collect the diaries after a specified period of time

The product design team can analyze the user diaries to understand the user’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors over time. They can use this information to identify patterns and trends in the user’s experience, and to identify areas for improvement. The team can also use the user diaries to communicate the user’s experience to stakeholders and to get their feedback.

User diaries can provide rich, detailed insights into the user’s experience, including information about their motivations, frustrations, and satisfaction. They can also provide insights into how the user interacts with the product over time, and how their experience changes over time.

A Holistic View

Creating both a customer journey map and an ecosystem map in product design can provide several benefits:

Improved customer understanding: A customer journey map provides a detailed understanding of the customer’s experiences and interactions with the product or service, while an ecosystem map provides a broader understanding of the market and competitive landscape. Together, these maps can provide a comprehensive view of the customer and the market.

  • Improved product design: By identifying pain points and opportunities for improvement in the customer experience through a customer journey map, and by identifying opportunities for innovation and collaboration through an ecosystem map, these maps can help inform the design of new features or services that better meet the needs of the customer and the market.
  • Better alignment with business strategy: An ecosystem map can provide a broad understanding of the market and competitive landscape, which can help align product design with business strategy by identifying opportunities for growth and diversification.
  • Better collaboration and communication: Creating both a customer journey map and an ecosystem map can help facilitate collaboration and communication between different teams and stakeholders, such as product development, marketing, and sales.
  • Better decision making: Both maps can provide valuable information that can help inform and support decision making, such as which features to include, which partners to collaborate with, and which marketing strategies to use.
  • Better understanding of potential risks and opportunities: By understanding the full customer experience, and the market and competitive landscape, a company can be better prepared to address potential risks or take advantage of opportunities.

It’s worth noting that creating customer journey and ecosystem maps are not mutually exclusive and they can complement each other. The customer journey map focuses on the customer’s experience and emotions, while the ecosystem map focuses on the market and competitive landscape. Together, they provide a holistic view of the product’s context and can help in creating a more successful product.

Customer Journey Map

A customer journey map in product design is a visual representation of the experiences and interactions a customer has with a product or service, from initial awareness to post-purchase evaluation. Creating a customer journey map can help identify pain points and opportunities for improvement in the customer experience, and can also help inform the design of new features or services.

Here are the steps to create a customer journey map in product design:

  1. Define the customer segments: Identify the different segments of customers that the product or service is intended for.
  2. Identify the key stages in the customer journey: Identify the key stages in the customer journey, including initial awareness, research, purchase, use, and post-purchase evaluation.
  3. Collect data on the customer journey: Collect data on the customer journey through a variety of methods, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic research.
  4. Identify the customer’s emotions, needs, and pain points at each stage of the journey: Use the data collected to identify the customer’s emotions, needs, and pain points at each stage of the journey.
  5. Create a visual representation of the customer journey: Create a visual representation of the customer journey, such as a diagram or a map.
  6. Analyze the customer journey map: Use the customer journey map to identify pain points and opportunities for improvement in the customer experience, and to inform the design of new features or services.

It’s important to note that customer journey maps can be used to analyze existing products or services, or to help inform the development of new products or services. It’s also important to update the customer journey map as the product evolves and market changes.

Ecosystem Map

An ecosystem map in product design is a visual representation of the different elements that interact and influence the product or service, including the customers, suppliers, partners, competitors, and other stakeholders. Creating an ecosystem map can help identify opportunities for innovation and collaboration, and can also help identify potential threats or challenges to the product or service.

Here are the steps to create an ecosystem map in product design:

  1. Define the scope of the ecosystem: Identify the boundaries of the ecosystem, including the product or service, the customers, the suppliers, the partners, the competitors, and any other relevant stakeholders.
  2. Identify the key actors in the ecosystem: Identify the key actors in the ecosystem, including customers, suppliers, partners, competitors, regulators, and other stakeholders.
  3. Define the relationships between the actors: Identify the relationships between the actors, including how they interact and influence each other.
  4. Identify key trends and forces: Analyze the ecosystem to identify key trends and forces that are shaping the market and affecting the actors.
  5. Create a visual representation of the ecosystem: Create a visual representation of the ecosystem, such as a diagram or a map.
  6. Analyze the ecosystem map: Use the ecosystem map to identify opportunities for innovation and collaboration, and to identify potential threats or challenges to the product or service.
  7. As a living document you should update the ecosystem map as the product evolves and market changes.

It’s important to note that ecosystem maps can be used to analyze existing products or services, or to help inform the development of new products or services. An ecosystem map can be created using a variety of tools and techniques, such as mind mapping, affinity diagrams, or flow diagrams.

Stakeholder Interviews

These are structured conversations with individuals who have a vested interest in the success of a product or service. This can include customers, users, partners, stakeholders, or subject matter experts. The purpose of these interviews is to gather information, insights, and feedback that can inform the product design process.

Stakeholder interviews are typically conducted early in the product design process as a way to better understand the problem space, identify user needs and pain points, and validate assumptions about the market and target audience. During the interviews, product designers ask open-ended questions to encourage stakeholders to share their thoughts, experiences, and perspectives on the product and its impact.

The information gathered from stakeholder interviews is valuable in shaping the product strategy and direction, defining the problem statement, and creating a product that meets the needs of the target audience. By engaging with stakeholders throughout the design process, product designers can ensure that their solutions are grounded in real-world insights and meet the needs of their intended users.

RACI

A RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) chart is a matrix used to define roles and responsibilities within a project or organization. It is a tool that helps clarify who is responsible for which tasks, who is accountable for the final outcome, who needs to be consulted for input, and who needs to be kept informed of progress.

In product design, a RACI chart can be important in ensuring that all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities, and that there is clear accountability and communication throughout the design process. It can also be used to identify and avoid potential conflicts or misunderstandings.

A RACI chart can be particularly useful in large or complex product design projects, where there are many stakeholders involved, such as a cross-functional team or multiple departments. It can also help to ensure that all aspects of the product design are being considered, such as technical, functional, aesthetic, and user experience requirements.

By using a RACI chart, it can make sure that the project stays on track, deadlines are met and everyone is aware of the status of the project. It also helps with identifying potential problems and opportunities for improvement, and tracking progress against the project plan.

Service Blueprint

A service blueprint is a tool used in product design to visually map out the different elements and interactions involved in a service. It can be used to understand and improve the service delivery process, and to identify potential pain points and areas for improvement.

A service blueprint typically includes the following elements:

  1. Front stage: This is the part of the service that is visible to the customer, such as the physical space or online interface where the service is delivered.
  2. Backstage: This is the part of the service that is not visible to the customer, such as the behind-the-scenes processes and systems used to deliver the service.
  3. Support processes: These are the processes that support the service delivery, such as training, maintenance, and quality control.
  4. Customer actions: This includes the actions taken by the customer, such as making a request or providing feedback.
  5. Points of contact: These are the moments where the customer interacts with the service, such as visiting a website or speaking to a customer service representative.
  6. Touchpoints: These are the different channels or mediums through which the service is delivered, such as in-person, phone, or online.

By mapping out these different elements and interactions, a service blueprint can help identify pain points, such as bottlenecks or inconsistencies in the service delivery process, and opportunities for improvement, such as by streamlining processes or adding new touchpoints. Additionally, service blueprint can be used as a tool for communicating the design of the service to different stakeholders, including customers, employees and management.

Conclusion

This is a lot of abstract information for those uninitiated in the design discipline. However, these are key concepts to understand as a customer, user, and partner in the design, development, and delivery of today’s digital products. We will continue sharing these high-level introductions to the macro-level concepts in future posts, but if you wish to speak with us about your current design needs, please get in touch with us through the form below. 

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