Bill Franz
Design Leadership | UX Research

UX Research Process
3-Step Process
My research process focuses on transparency and stakeholder involvement. The sooner we can all accurately understand the problem, the sooner we can start constructing a solution that can achieve our goals. At the end of each step, we review our progress with stakeholders. We want to make sure we’re on the right track, and provide opportunities for feedback and correction. When we arrive at the solution, I don’t want it to be a grand reveal, where the solution was unexpected. I want them to be thinking, that makes sense, because I see how we got here. This is where I would have landed as well.
Step 1: Understand
Develop understanding of the problem, the current product offering, and the landscape
Step 2: Synthesize
Establish a high level direction of how we intend to solve the problem and how we will measure success
Step 3: Prescribe
Build a prototype of the solution with customer testing showing confidence in the approach.
This timeboxes the process and sets expectations for stakeholders when we’ll have updates to share. These three steps can take place over a year, a month, or 1-2 weeks. No matter the timetable, we still go through the same steps and leverage past research when possible. Through this balance, my team the chance to follow the research wherever it goes, but also create some predictability for product and stakeholders.
Step 1: Understand
In step 1, we develop an understanding the problem we want to solve, today’s product, and today’s customers. Additionally we want to understand today’s product and customer. Before we can chart where we want to go, we need to understand where we are.
We identify our working group, and conduct interviews our stakeholders, subject matter experts, and customers. We want to understand who is using the product, their goals, their journey, needs, and pain points. Similarly we want to understand the business’ goals and how they align or conflict with the customers’ goals.
To create alignment with our stakeholders, we create different ux diagrams at this stage to create a common understanding of the landscape, product, and current journey.
  • Identify Project Goals
  • Interview Stakeholders
  • Develop Customer Baseline
  • Competitive/ Comparative Analysis
  • Personas
  • Pain points, & Opportunities
  • Customer Journey Map
  • Sitemap User Flows
  • Check-in with working group
Step 2: Synthesize
In step 2, we establish a high level direction of how we intend to solve the problem. By identifying sitemaps and key user flows, we contrast the current and future flow to highlight how we will solve the problems. We are looking for alignment on the way we intend to solve the problem, and how we will measure the outcome.
  • Proposed Customer Journey Map
  • Proposed Sitemap
  • Proposed User Flows
  • Proposed Develop Usability Testing Plan
  • Proposed Draft KPis
  • Proposed Check-in with working group
Step 3: Prescribe
In step 3, we build wireframes and prototypes of the solution. We hold internal validation sessions to review the solution with subject matter experts. With customer usability testing, we can show a higher level of confidence that the solution is intuitive and accomplished the intended goals. Our goal is to make sure the working group understands and agreed with the solution the team puts forth.
  • Wireframes
  • Prototype
  • Content
  • Testing and Validation
  • Business Requirements
  • Check-in with working group
  • Handoff to UI
After Research is Completed
After the three steps of UX Research are completed, the solution is ready to be handed off to the UI team for design exploration and comps. Because UI is part of the working group, they are passed the baton understanding why we developed the particular solution. We continue to Shepard the project forward in a role of UX support.
Sharing Research
Our research is the most power when it can be shared across teams and reused within the organization. We archive our research in different formats that are intended to be easy to digest. We present in a deck format with concise insights and different ux artifacts, which is easy to share out with the larger organization. Through wikis we create our own research repository where we document, summarize, and archive meetings, interviews, and other discovery events. Going one level deeper, the recordings of individual interviews are archived with notations.
These processes help the organization remember our but also help the team remember our research. That way future interviews are conducted with intension, keeping in mind what we’ve learned before. Instead of conducting the same interview, we intentionally focus on new aspects that want to focus on.
As good as research can be, if nobody is reading it, then it may as well not be there.  So in true UX fashion, I’m thinking about the end user  of this research.
The goal of this process is to promote transparency and collaboration, allowing the team to reach a joint understanding of the problem that needs to be solved and the right way to solve it. Decisions should be backed by research and data. By bringing the team along for the ride, there is a sense of joint ownership in the solution and its success.