My UX Design Checklist for Thinking, Doing, and Learning — Thinking

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Thinking training should be part of a designer's life. I think from work, daily life, even philosophy. Keep thinking is essential to help myself grow, improve, practice, and learn more.

I chose to write down my current thoughts and lesson learned to summarize my knowledge repository for future review and critique.

Thinking Models Process

1. User Experience 5 Elements

Strongly useful for non-UX gene company that without formal UX designer position. Thinking from macro to micro helps avoid missing any valuable thoughts.

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UX design is not the job of delivering interfaces without considering the company value, brand, goals, and development purpose. It is a holistic ecosystem combining user needs and business needs with the company’s own needs to polish the user experience balancing the three totally different requirements.

This thinking model helps a UX designer to think thoroughly before diving into a detailed design by asking the following questions.

“Who are the target users? What are their expectations? What are their pains? What can we do to stand out from the market?”

“What kind of company are we building? What’s the company brand? Does it align with users’ expectations? How to convey to the users?”

“What’s the business needs? Does it reasonable for product development and users’ expectations? Where is the middle point to meet both needs?”

What is the product looked like? What is the product structure? How does the product run?

“Do the features necessary and reasonable to implement in order to achieve the former defined goals of users, company, and product?”

After asking the above questions before designing, the designer should be quite clear about what is going on, what is next step, how the design meets the goals.

2. Stanford Design Thinking Process

This helps a designer in a considerable mature company as one of the UX designers to reserve self-thoughts and voice when to design a new product as all the necessary macro things are defined, ie, company brand, value, development goals.

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This process is extremely important because:

1) designers know the users by who they are and what they need, then to think about how to meet the users’ needs better.

2) designers are also able to generate relevant stuff and share it within the product team.

3) the stuff helps other roles in the team understand who they are doing for, provide their valuable thoughts on the product.

4) help for smoother the workflow by having each role on the same page of the target user understanding.

5) reduce the cost of return work or wrong decisions, to adjust before launching the product to all of the users.

3. Double Diamond Model

This model is used more often in the real work environment for newly establish projects and launched products. It aims to help the designers organize the design process from ambiguous to concrete ideas by the main 4 steps — Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver.

Source from: Double Diamond framework (Nessler, 2018)

Personally speaking, I think this model is mostly used inside designer roles to find out problems from users and design to solve the problems, less including other roles’ opinions.

Other Thoughts

There are also many other thinking processes and models depending on companies' and teams’ own situations. The reason why I listed the above three is that, based on my current experience, most of the other thinking processes and models basically are transforms from the above based on the specific situation. But, I might change my mind if I get much more experienced and rethink them in the future.

Thinking Skills

1. Critical Thinking

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Instead of the thinking processes and models, keeping critical thinking is also essential to succeed in advocating for the users in the work environment, especially when the workload is increasing, (junior) designers are more likely biased by the managers without thinking deeply if the requirements are valid or not. At last, (junior) designers would become a wireframing machine without their own thinking and reflecting, and this absolutely not benefit a designer to grow.

As so, spend some time to analyze each assignment first and think about the value and purpose behind the assignments, ask for reasons to address the uncertainty, evaluate the design from the big picture to small details, regularly reflect the thoughts and lessons learns from work and life.

Thinking makes human the most different from animals.

2. Creative Thinking

When I initially wrote down creative thinking I was meaning to think open-minded and not be ashamed of proposing unfeasible or naive ideas. However, after I searched, I found the following image regarding creative thinking skills which is quite doable and would like to share here.

Source from: Creative Thinking Definition, Skills, and Examples

Other than these, learn more about the technology and new techniques should be also a great help for creative thinking to broaden the edge of one’s creation. While you don’t know techniques, you would never imagine how technology brings surprising utilization.

In addition, daily collection is also a method to improve creative thinking. Like, watching science fiction movies, animes, doodling, playing video games, etc. It is a gradual and continuous process to improve this ability.

3. Reflecting

Reflecting is also playing the key place in the whole thinking skills. While the above are about self-action, reflecting help myself rethink what I have done and then summarize what is good or bad, then keep it or avoid it the next time. And this is what I think why experience is vital in the work environment. The senior designers have reflected their lesson learns and summary from their former experience which helps them know how to do what at a specific situation.

Improvement happens only when you rethink and reflect on the result of what you’ve done.

4. Open-minded Thinking/ Empathy Thinking

One other important thinking mindset is to open mind, or say, able to empathize. This is not only for user research such as interviews and usability test, but also for the other roles inside the team or company. As a natural human being, no one gonna able to consider all aspects of a problem. Criticism is also inevitable in reality. Instead of being mad at self-complaining, why not open your mind to hear others' voices and opinions which might inspire totally different ideas you never think about.

The other point of open-minded thinking is, as what I said at the user experience 5 elements session, a designer has to communicate with other roles to understand their needs then to balance the design and different needs. It is necessary to try to understand why other roles propose such kind of needs that a designer might not be able to understand if he/she doesn’t have empathy thinking. For example, when a designer presents a great solution that he thinks it is good based on the research results, but the stakeholders don’t buy it saying that they don’t think the solution is worthy and without further reason. Don’t laugh, it happens a lot especially in non-UX gene company/team. At this point, a designer should be able to empathize with the stakeholders’ concerns, like they don’t see the benefit or significance behind the solution, then focus on presenting the solution of the concern from the audience.

The ego should never be included in thinking aspects as a UX designer.

At last

As I said, I think and reflect. I chose to write all the thoughts down which is the best way for me to organize and review my overall ideas recently, because,

Only being able to think is still not enough, it is also essential to be able to articulate the thoughts in mind as a UX designer, while communication is one of the key requirements.