As with research, I do like to have streamlined processes, playbooks and systems for my design work as well. However, unlike my other articles so far, the process I use to design solutions for XR does not follow the Google Ventures design sprint due to the nature of the businesses I work with.
That said, if your situation allows for more frequent access to your target audience and your project team members, take advantage of that. In that case, you may be able to use their 5-day sprint since it provides rapid prototyping and testing in small chunks during each design sprint for faster iteration.
Four essential components
- A solid understanding of the thing being designed/redesigned.You’ll want to spend time with stakeholders and subject matter experts to gain a solid understanding of the scope of the thing being designed, the challenges with the current way of doing things, and their expectations for a successful solution.
- A strong understanding of any established UX best practices for XR. Having a strong foundational understanding of best practices will make it easier to avoid issues with new solutions, identify the source of issues in existing solutions that are being updated, and to come up with effective design solutions for each.
- Field research findings for the project subject matter. Skipping up-front research to ensure you’re solving the right problem can be detrimental to your project and could result in costly rework later. So, before starting design sprints, I would strongly encourage conducting an up-front research sprint at the very least if you don’t have time or budget for larger research initiatives. And if it’s an existing product, I would also strongly encourage conducting a usability testing sprint if you haven’t already at this point.
- Project requirements document, process flows and/or list of features. This information will come from conversations with stakeholders, research findings, and will be built on the foundation of UX best practices. Having a solid scope will reduce scope creep, and the overall process flows will help equip you to have a consistent experience that meets the needs of the stakeholders and the users.
Create your design roadmap
Once you have these essential components in place, you would create your design roadmap by breaking down the features, process flows and requirements into chunks based on what needs to happen first for other things to happen. You would also want to take into account the developer needs when creating your design roadmap, and answer the following questions.
- What’s the timeline?
- What do they need first?
- What will take the longest to develop?
- What are the uncertainties that need to be ironed out before this component can be designed?
- What design patterns for behaviors should be used across all modules and thus foundationally be designed first? (e.g. controller button behaviors, locomotion, levels of interaction with objects and UI)
I’ve divided up my playbook based on the different scenarios I’ve come across in my own experience. Depending on the company or team, consider what of this playbook would need to be different based on the situations you find yourself in, and consider the following…
- If it’s a new product, what type of design artifacts and work would be needed versus if it’s an existing product?
- If it’s an existing product, is there feedback or research? Existing products would need an audit of the current state of usability and content.
When full UX design work is not in the budget
We all want the ideal way of doing UX design for projects, but in real life there are many times when it’s just not in the budget. Even so, you’ll still want to do what you can with what you have. Consider making global patterns and templates to make this more effective and efficient.
UX Oversight for XR Projects
When there’s not enough budget for full involvement you may still be able to provide some oversight. Do what you can with the time and budget you have.
UX Design Guidance
When there’s enough in the budget for you to provide consulting or guidance, but no budget for actual design work…
- Share relevant best practices, standards and patterns with the project team as a foundational start on design.
- Conduct a competitive landscape of existing solutions that solve similar interaction design problems.
- Gather video clips and screenshots of existing interaction patterns that represent the types of interactions desired.
- Provide markups or sketches of additional UX guidance as necessary.
- Work with the developers to answer questions, provide clarity and additional guidance as needed.
- If you can, conduct mid-project retrospectives and project postmortems in order to continually improve processes.
UX Design Reviews
At some point in your project, you’ll want to review the progress.
- Review any walkthrough videos.
- Walk through any test builds sent for review.
- Record videos of you trying the experience for your own quick reference.
- Provide feedback and mark up screenshots as needed.
When there is enough of a build to test and time and budget permit, run a usability testing sprint to gain insights and feedback.
If time and budget do not permit, you could perform an expert usability assessment. I will provide more information on these specifically for XR soon, but in the meantime, you can learn more about the general concept from Usability.gov.
Final Pre-Release Usability Testing
Run a usability testing sprint upon receiving the final build, and prior to product rollout. Even if there isn’t time or budget to make changes before release, keep the findings and recommendations on hand for future releases.
Gather feedback from the solution’s audience and stakeholders during rollout for further improvements and future iterations by running some field research targeted towards rollouts.
- The Design Sprint by Google Ventures
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I’m an Immersive Tech UX Design Professional with over 22 years of experience designing for kiosks, websites, mobile apps and desktop software for many well-known and not-so-well-known companies.
I’m not speaking on behalf of or representing any company. These are my personal thoughts, experiences and opinions.