UX Process & Tools

Disclaimer: every company has a different process depending on team structure, budget, timing. It is important to understand the situation and scope of work to determine the right process and activities.


Explore the problem space closely.


  • User Interviews
  • Empathy Mapping
  • Contextual Inquiry
  • Problem Exploration
  • Competitive Analysis


Apply constraints to determine what part of problem matters the most and is feasible to solve.


  • Feature Prioritization
  • Feasibility Analysis
  • Tech Feasibility Analysis
  • Feature Prioritization
  • Gut check
  • Personas


Apply constraints to determine what part of problem matters the most and is feasible to solve.


  • Sketching
  • Design Studio
  • Prototyping
  • Usability Testing
  • Co-Designing


Finalize deliverables, re-validate assumptions, final testing (ensuring implementation meets design).


  • High fidelity mockups
  • Final testing
  • Experience Walkthrough


  • Pen & Paper
  • Sketch
  • Photoshop
  • Invision
  • Axure
  • Confluence & Jira
  • OmniGraffle

Competitive Analysis

I analyze the competitors to understand market trends, see how the product differs, and find potential opportunities. This analysis helps me understand where the product stands in the market and how users are currently solving the problem at hand.

Navigation Comparison

If a site is designed correctly, the navigation should resemble the assumed user mental model of site. In the example below, Walmart assumes that people group together dairy, eggs and cheese as they would be physically close in the supermarket.

Navigation comparison for grocery items

Features Comparison

Looking at what features competitors have tells us areas of opportunities and what differentiates us from others doing differently. This is a baseline for what features people expect.

Selected features for location based networking apps

User Flow Comparison

Competitor user flows tells gives an idea of how users current accomplish their tasks on the websites, and again areas of opportunity.

Buying A Product Online - D’Agostino

Buying A Product Online - Whole Foods

User Research

I am not the user. I am not the user.

Great user research is the key to great UX. Conducting user interviews and ethnographic research is the best way to empathize with users and stakeholders. It is really enjoyable and addicting to learn about people and how they think.

Problem Exploration

Before doing user research we explore the problem/ brief in various dimensions using Mona Patel’s problem exploration method. This allows me to think about the problem in different ways, why the problem is there, what it means to solve the problem, and what is stopping us from solving the problem. This exploration provides insights into what areas should be explored during user research.

Empathy Mapping

Sometimes you just don't have access to users. Collaborating with empathy mapping in a setting allows everyone to at least come to an agreement to the assumptions we are making about users before we do research or design.

Preliminary empathy map of a hiring manager (maybe you?)

User Interviews

After creating an interview outline I create a list of questions to ask about their behavior. I also inquire about the context of these behaviors. Paying attention to the tone of voice and body language I let them speak and listen to what is said and not being said.

  • General Behaviors
  • Good & Bad Networking Experiences
  • Meet New Friends & Stay in Touch
  • Mentoring & Career Growth
Interviews are the main source of user empathy

Synthesizing Research

Personas are a great tool to help create empathy for the user for all parties involved, but should be used with care and not be too detailed to pigeon hole who the user is.


Personas are a great tool to help create empathy for the user for all parties involved.

Feature selection is used to decide what to sketch and prototype. It is based on:

  • User
  • Business
  • Competitive
  • Technical

MoSCoW Method

This method groups features into clearly defined decisions. It is subject to change throughout the design process

Sketching & Wireframing


Sketching get my ideas out and helps make design decisions. Design studio focuses the team on the user and goals. Design studio collapses the ideas of the team into one design . Any critique given must address the problem or the user goals.

Sketches of an ecommerce site product listing


Wireframing is an effective tool for vetting a design/concept with developers and stakeholders. I do my wires in Sketch or HTML.

Usability Testing

Usability testing is used where it makes sense. Usability tests do not confirm if users want to use your product, or what they would really do in the context of their lives. It is important to combine this information with user interviews, analytics and other sources get a fuller picture.

Case Studies