With experience as a designer and researcher, I have conducted and led a breadth of projects for clients - from personas to experience maps, lean user research to task analysis and wireframing.
I have created personas across multiple industries, from games to online education and small businesses. I incorporate the Jobs-to-be-Done method into my personas, focusing on motivations behind the desire to "hire" a product. I typically work with a visual designer to create artifacts to share personas across the organization or company.
Experience maps offer a look at what people are thinking, feeling, and doing throughout an engagement with a product or service. Research for an experience map includes task analysis, interviews, and observations (in-field, remote, or in lab). Once the experience map is created, we can use it to drive innovation, looking for places where the emotional experience suffers or where design can help the customer accomplish their goals faster. I learned how to create experience maps from Adaptive Path during a workshop they hosted in San Francisco.
Tools: Whiteboard, post it notes, paper & pen, spreadsheets, OmniGraffle, Gliffy.com
flows & wires
Flows and wireframes are great tools for clearly articulating a product or service path. I use them to help engineering and design teams see the whole picture before getting started on hi-def designs and code. We can use wireframes for user research, testing copy, mental models, and task success. Simple online website editors such as Strikingly or Squarespace can be useful to build working website or application prototypes.
Tools: Whiteboard, paper, Balsamiq, OmniGraffle, Sketch, WYSIWYG Website editors
A story is a powerful design tool. It can be conveyed in a presentation, with a storyboard and an emotionally connected presenter, or it can be conveyed in video, such as a documentary or tale of the future. I have introduced several of these techniques to companies I've worked with, building empathy or inspiring a team with a vision of the future.
Knowing what metrics you are trying to move ahead of time can help frame research questions and guide the design process. I focus on specific, measurable outcomes for each design project.
I use the HEART Metrics framework (happiness, engagement, adoption, retention, and task success) developed by Kerry Rodden at Google. Typically a project will focus on no more than two areas. For example, a new onboarding design for an online education company might focus on adoption and task success - can new users find a relevant course and do they start the course?