User experience design is a process, not a PSD.
I guide the development process from start to finish as the voice for the user. The most successful UX designers are those that are a driving force throughout all stages of the development cycle.
Who are our users and how does our product fit into their lives? What behaviors are we trying to encourage in our users and what desires are we trying to serve? It's important to have a research-based understanding of your audience, and to build an instinctual sense of how to serve your user's needs.
Early and often throughout the development process, I run user research sessions with outside users that use or are in the target market for a product in development. These sessions often take the form of informal conversations between myself and a user, broadcasted to the rest of the team, which creates a human connection and real-world understanding of how and why a user uses our product.
I also accent this approach with surveys and other quantitative approaches; however, I find that sharing simple, directed conversations with the team helps build an invaluable sense of the real people we're making an experience for.
Armed with an understanding of our users' and our business's goals, I begin laying the foundation to best execute based on what we've learned. The first part of this step is a tool I've created called a "Goal/Info/Action" set. I list each of the user's goals, the information a user needs to achieve that goal, and the actions that the user takes to complete that goal. From these sets, a user flow of related actions and information begins to take shape. I then group together related goals and their information and actions into a more traditional user flow.
Like all parts of the design process, it's important to iterate upon and test these user flows and design assumptions. I often create clickable prototypes (my tool of choice is Proto.io) or prototypes in Unity Game Engine using C#.
This is the part of the process in which I most rely on my intuition and design sense. However, the most important design resource I have when creating wireframes is the other members of my team. Incorporating constant feedback from stakeholders and the wider team, I work as a curator instead of a superhero.
I also ensure that UI artists and engineers are involved in the conversation (if they are not already). It is important that I deliver designs that not only serve our users' goals, but are also feasible within the technical restraints of the product and consistent with the aesthetic intentions of the UI artist.
One of the most important parts of a UX designer's job is to be a key member of the development team.
I draw upon my knowledge and experience in software development, as well as experience in the C# programming language, to create exhaustive specs for the engineering team that account for the realities of software development. I also am a daily presence presence in the engineering effort, ensuring that questions are answered, new eventualities are accounted for, and the product is being built as designed.
Everything we've done as a team is to get to this point: putting the product in front of users and learning by watching them use it. As soon as the development build is functional, I bring in users nearly every week to test the current state of the product. From this feedback, I move back in the UX process as far as is appropriate, iterate on the experience, and test again!
Finally, once the product is live, I take advantage of analytics and business intelligence to continue to iterate, design, and plan for the future of the project, as well as to shape and mature my understanding of our users and their goals.