Startup - Lean UX
I was approached for this project by a friend from my undergrad alma mater. He was in the process of starting a company and had engineers and back-end web development, but needed someone to work on the UI/UX — to make his company fun and effortless to interact with. While I can't go into detail about the business itself, the heart of the business is improving conditions for chickens, which is something I can 100% get behind. It's nice to both enjoy your job and what your job is doing for the world.
I knew my UX approach needed to be Lean. This is a startup after all! But I wasn't as familiar with Lean UX as I'd like. Fortunately UXPin offers a free guide on the subject — it's titled "UX Design for Startups." My main takeaway was to be as flexible and as fast as the startup dictated. Iterate, iterate, iterate. And get feedback from everyone, at all stages.
User interviews & field research
After familiarizing myself with the UX strategy I needed, I had to familiarize myself with the user base of the company. Chicken people! I watched a documentary of the same name, but I also talked to people I knew who owned and raised chickens, including the startup owner.
Conducting user interviews helped me understand the needs of the target user base, the problems they'd had with previous endeavors, and so forth. (Yep, still being vague!) While I considered writing a survey to get a wider understanding of user attitudes and behaviors, I ultimately found what I needed by perusing a popular chicken forum. Literally one of the questions I had about chickens — "Why would you do X instead of X?" — was a thread topic several times over. The replies were revealing and, I think, representative. In essence, these people were already responding to a survey.
My field research, while not physically field research, also did the invaluable job of helping us hone the scope of the business.
Our personas are a work-in-progress. There are a few stages to the growth of this company, and I'm finding personas to be less valuable now than they will be later. I got us started though, creating skeleton personas, which at least communicate the essence of our demographic(s).
Information architecture & wireframes
I spent an afternoon in Starbucks working on the information architecture of the site — having a card sort party of 1. :) It definitely helps seeing things in a physical space. I understand as far as UX goes, I was getting a little ahead of myself in creating wireframes so soon, but the owner wanted something to show investors, and I wanted what investors saw to make some sense.
Later I worked on sketching and digitizing, some of which you can see below. Without a doubt, these will be refined in the UX cycle.
In the next few weeks...
I've already worked up a basic site map, but I'm going to create user flows which refine the site map. Both the flows and site map will help me flesh out more wireframes for the various interactions, and from then we move on to prototyping and user testing! It's exciting stuff.