TLDR; Identify, Research, Analyze, Design, Test. UX is a malleable process that should be iterated on constantly and is absolutely crucial to every project.
Step 1: Identify The Problem or Task
I identify key pain points and needs through stakeholder meetings, user interviews & data, value propositions. This part of the process is crucial for me. One must identify problems in order to solve them. Once getting sign off from stakeholders a plan can be formulated to solve this problem with design and product teams.
Step 2: Research
I believe great design (both UI & UX) is about 80% research and 20% execution (maybe even less). Once proper research is done it is far easier to execute an idea properly. This will save valuable time and money down the road. Research manifests itself in three different ways for me. I do individual research constantly, trying to be empathetic with the consumer experience. I will also conduct individual in-depth interviews (IDI's) to better understand users on a core level and find their needs, motivations and behaviors.
Step 3: Analysis
Compile data from steps 1 & 2. This takes the info and assumptions we have about our problem and gives it validity. In this part of the process I will create user personas and customer experience maps.
Step 4: Design
Sketch, wireframe, prototype, repeat.
Step 5: Testing
As soon as a product exists, testing should begin. Testing should be constant, as it provides valuable insight into the customers thoughts not only about the product, but also the brand.
- Internal Testing: Hand a coworker the phone and observe them using the product.
- User Testing: Usability testing, focus groups, beta testing, A/B testing, and surveys.
- Metrics: I use Tableau daily to understand the product and find problems
- User Feedback: Support tickets, bug reports, etc.
Everything can & will overlap.
UX is the opposite of linear. It's important to maintain a structure, but always be open to new ideas.