Key Differentiators in Ensuring a Successful Product Design
Interactive products are built to meet specific objectives as defined by the product owner. To most effectively achieve those objectives, the owner needs the product’s audience to interact with it in specific ways. The key to any successful product design exercise is enabling the audience to use the product in a manner that best aligns with the product’s intended purpose, thereby helping to achieve its objectives.
When approaching large-scale interactive projects, Mediabarn employs a standard life cycle development methodology. However, we augment this proven methodology with two key differentiators, research and testing, and a user-centered design methodology. These two closely related components differentiate us from most firms and help ensure actual audience behavior will match as closely as possible to desired behavior. Each component is described below:
1. Research and Testing
As experienced and talented as our user interface designers are, we are humbly aware of the fact that we are not the audience. Utilizing research and testing in the design process is critical for gaining insight into user needs and behavior, as well as understanding the product and its objectives. Gaining this information makes it much more possible to match actual user behavior to the desired behavior required to meet the business objectives of the product. This research includes (but is not limited to) focus group testing, stakeholder interviews and analysis, creation of user scenarios, and one-on-one user testing.
2. User Centered Design Methodology
Mediabarn employs a User Centered Design methodology (UCD) when designing an interactive product. In practicing UCD, Mediabarn leverages a distinct User Interface Design phase. This is a key phase where critical thinking is applied in determining the product’s information architecture, navigational elements, and individual page layout. It is during this phase that the results of the preliminary research and testing are factored in, validated and iterated if necessary. It is also when we ensure that user behavior contributes to meeting the objectives of the product through testing of the user interface designs and/or product prototypes.
Benefits of Mediabarn’s Key Differentiators
A UCD- based design ensures that the product’s navigation and functional elements are intuitive and consistent with what the audience would expect.
Testing the product prototypes at key milestones in the design process validates design decisions, helps bolster consensus among key product stakeholders, and provides learnings and feedback to ensure audience behaviors that help the product meet its objectives.
The software development lifecycle is streamlined by minimizing design revision cycles soon after the product is deployed. This is when most usability issues are discovered if testing is not utilized during the design phase.
Our in-house Usability Research Lab (UXL) works in parallel with the design team, playing the role of an objective third party. Test results, analysis, and recommendations are delivered in real time to the design team so they can determine specific actions to take.
Over time our UXL has built a significant knowledge base of best practices developed from conducting research.