Below is an outline of all important stages in the product design cycle, sharing some skills and frameworks that I have found to be highly effective, based on my past experience working collaboratively with product owners, product managers, designers, testers and developers.

01. Discovery through Empathy

Discovery is a preliminary phase in the UX design process that involves researching the problem space and gathering enough evidence to help frame the problem(s) to be solved. Discoveries do not involve testing hypotheses or solutions.

Skills and frameworks that have proven valuable include user interviews, surveys, empathy mapping, user needs statements and persona development. Super effective: 5 Whys technique (link)

02. Defining and understanding Value

It's important to have a deep understanding of the value your product aims to provide to users. This involves identifying the core benefits and outcomes that users expect or desire. By grasping the value proposition, you can align your design decisions and efforts to deliver that value. This alignment is critical if you want your organization to be product-led rather than sales-led.

During the definition stage, we define the core value we want to deliver (e.g., for a new product launch) or frame the problems users are facing within existing flows. This step is critical as it sets boundaries on the desired outcome of any design experimentation by defining the metrics of success.

Techniques such as value proposition canvases, user journey mapping, and empathy mapping can help you gain insights into user motivations, pain points, and desired outcomes.

mapping out using Miro in a workshop

(Image) One of the many synth sessions post user research. In this particular case based on: 

Problems in the form of pain points | Observed behaviours | Opportunities for improvement

03. Prioritization (pre-ideation)

Helps align teams to roadmaps and goals. It is as well critical for companies to maximize their efforts and achieve better outcomes.

Prioritization frameworks like the below can help you determine which ideas should be pursued first. Considering factors such as user needs, business goals, technical constraints, and resources available is crucial in this step.

  • Impact Matrix (Big bets, Quick Wins, Money Pit, Fill-ins)
  • MoSCoW method (Must-Have, Should-Have, Could-Have, Won't-Have),
  • Feasibility, Desirability, and Viability scorecard
  • RICE method (Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort)
  • Kano model (Attractive, Performance, Indifferent, Must Be)
  • Critical Path

04. Ideation

This phase involves generating a wide range of ideas to address the identified user needs. Brainstorming sessions, sketching, and concept mapping can be used to foster creativity and encourage diverse perspectives..

Design thinking and the use of ideation tools like mind maps or affinity diagrams can greatly assist in this process. 

Personal favourites: How-might-we, Crazy 8, Worst case scenario

05. Prioritization (post-ideation)

Post ideation you have a pool of ideas generated during the ideation phase, it's important to prioritize them based on their impact and feasibility. 

06. Prototype

Creating prototypes allows you to test and refine your prioritized ideas before investing significant resources into development.

Rapid prototyping techniques such as paper prototyping, wireframing, or creating interactive mockups help to validate design concepts and gather valuable feedback early on. Personal all time favourite, Axure RP (especially if testing interactive form inputs)

07. Test and iterate

Iterative design enables you to refine and enhance your product based on user feedback and insights gathered during testing. By analyzing user behavior and making data-driven decisions, you can iterate on your design to continually improve its usability and functionality.

A/B testing, user feedback loops, and analytics tools can assist in this iterative process. Personal favourite: Optimal Workshop

08. Evaluation

Finally, evaluating the success of your design is crucial to measure its impact and identify areas for further improvement. Usability testing, user surveys, and performance analytics can provide valuable insights into user satisfaction and overall product effectiveness.

Applying evaluation scores for user flows such as Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT), Customer Effort Scores (CES) or the System Usability Scale (SUS) or Net Promoter Score (NPS) for a broader metric to mueasure the success of your design.

By following these core phases, including the step of understanding value and working towards it, and leveraging the appropriate skills and frameworks, you can enhance the overall product design process and create user-centered solutions that meet the needs and expectations of your target audience.