At Scenic West, we understand that every project is unique, and that’s why we tailor our approach to fit the specific needs of our clients. We’ve partnered with companies from a wide range of industries with different business models, varying team structures, and differing goals, from e-commerce sites like Bartesian, to B2B SaaS products like Brandzooka. Among all the projects, one thing they have in common is the way we apply our design process. As a UX team, our process keeps us on track and helps guide our approach to gathering all of the information we need to build product experiences that delight users, and our clients.
We may be asked to redesign a homepage for an e-commerce site, or a dashboard for a cloud-based B2B SaaS product, but regardless of the complexity and scope, the design process remains consistent. Our approach to gathering information, applying learnings, testing, and validating ideas help us provide high-quality output to all parties, helping us look beyond the surface level and start with the business goals first, working outward from there.
Agile Product Design
Our team specializes in Agile product design because it enables us to collaborate and iterate on projects to meet our clients and their users’ needs. We start by defining clear objectives that align with user priorities and long-term business goals. Then, through user research, we gain a deeper understanding of users and their pain points, using this knowledge to ideate potential solutions. We evaluate these solutions together, ensuring alignment with business goals and user needs. Once we have a viable solution, we work together to refine it using agile customer feedback loops. By collaborating with our clients and working iteratively, we create valuable products that align with business objectives and support long-term growth and scalability.
Phase 1: Goal Setting and Aligning Priorities
This phase of the design process is extremely important and often is not given the time and space it deserves to serve a project. With a structured approach though we can efficiently and effectively work through this phase and create output that helps drive long-term alignment and act as a checks & balances system throughout the project. To understand business and product goals during this phase, we use activities such as stakeholder interviews and workshops, uncovering user goals takes a different approach though and naturally leads us into our next more research, understanding users' goals needs to go beyond making assumptions and is best heard from the users themselves.
Balancing business priorities with user needs is a delicate task, and our years of experience in the B2B SaaS industry has taught us the importance of getting this balance right. Design choices that ignore either side can lead to more problems than solutions, and we aim to prevent these issues by taking the time to fully understand all parties involved, like users, stakeholders, development teams, and business owners.
While some goals are straightforward, like a user wanting to buy a product and a business wanting to sell it, oftentimes the reality is more complex. Users may have specific needs related to information gathering to make a decision, or managing complicated processes, while the business may aim to increase key metrics like their monthly active users (MAU) or grow their annual recurring revenue (ARR) through new service offerings. When we take the time to understand the unique goals for both sides, we are then able to identify opportunities for users and businesses to work towards them together.
Phase 2: Research
Conducting research is arguably the most important phase in the process and is where we are setting a course toward the right target. To make sure we’re headed in the right direction, we use a variety of research methods to gather insights and data that drive our decision-making for product opportunities. We conduct surveys and interviews with users to understand their needs, gather feedback on their experience, and uncover pain points. We also analyze data on user behavior to identify common patterns and spot trends.
We perform competitor analysis to understand the product landscape and identify opportunities to differentiate ourselves. All of this information helps us develop user personas, journey maps, empathy maps, and other artifacts that give us the clearest vision of the user's needs and how the business can meet them where they are and provide the most value.
User research has to be done with thoroughness and precision, because even being a degree off can lead us miles away from finding the right solution. By being meticulous in our approach and findings, we’re able to uncover several areas for improvement and find ways to provide more value to users in meeting their goals, while serving the business in the long-term. With all of our research at hand, we’re ready to move on to the next phase and start gathering solutions.
Related content: The Ultimate Guide to User Research
Phase 3: Generating Solutions
The solution phase is where our team blends knowledge and experience, understanding, and craftsmanship to bring designs to life. With a thorough understanding of user and stakeholder goals, user behaviors, and their needs, we can explore multiple options with different approaches, each with a unique set of affordances and opportunities.
Early in this phase, we aim for breadth and diversity in our solutions, which avoids becoming tied to a single approach too soon. This could stifle opportunities to deliver value to our users and limit the products’ trajectory. We utilize workshops, whiteboards, and rapid prototyping to generate a wide range of solutions that we iterated based on user needs, technical constraints, and business goals.
Similar to our goals and research phases, the solution phase is closely interrelated with the Testing phase. We move quickly to validate different approaches with users - aiming to receive feedback, rather than just making assumptions. This allows us to narrow down our solutions and focus on a single direction that aligns with the users’ needs.
During this phase, we create user flows, low-fidelity wireframes, and prototypes to explore different solutions. As we progress through this phase and validate, we move on to generate high-fidelity wireframes and hyper-realistic prototypes that support our testing phase.
Phase 4: Testing
The testing phase of the design process is closely linked with the solution phase and often involves operating in a loop between the two. Here, we test our designs with users, gather user feedback, and rapidly iterate or finalize designs based on our findings. As with the research phase, the testing phase is crucial to ensure that we are using real-life data and input instead of relying on our assumptions and guesses.
During this phase, we should be able to refer back to the goals we set early on in our design process and find validation in both those goals and our approach to solving user and business problems. A well-defined testing phase not only helps us finalize the best user experience but also drives internal confidence and team alignment as clear data points are supporting the investment in UX and user-centered product development.
To gather feedback, we can use a mix of moderated and unmoderated user testing or test changes in a live environment using various data-driven testing methods. The testing phase is critical to ensure that the product meets the user’s needs, resolves their pain points, and fulfills their expectations. Moreover, it helps us refine and polish our solution to deliver a superior experience.
Our UX design process is ongoing and provides us a structured approach that can be tailored to a project’s unique needs, with a focus on user-centered design and creating product experiences that scale. Our goal is to provide high-quality output that delights both users and stakeholders, we utilize agile methodologies to set the stage of clear communication with clients, ongoing collaboration, and thorough research to make sure we’re generating solutions that deliver value.
One of the best ways to get started with us is through a proof of concept design sprint. There, we will work in short iterations with your team to take your product vision from idea to concept in just 1-3 weeks. A design sprint is the perfect way to align your team, accelerate the product design process with rapid iteration and prototyping, and get to know us as an agency. If you’re interested in more information about a design sprint, feel free to contact us and we’ll be in touch to schedule a free discovery call.