There are almost as many process charts for UX as there are organizations applying UX methods. Here is just one way of looking at the process. Modify the process to your needs and resources. The most important thing is to make sure that the solutions are suitable to your users specifically.
Learn as much as you can about your users
Understanding your users, their motivations, goals and their environment is in the heart of creating good user experiences.
Qualitative research studies
Quantitative research studies
User and stakeholder interviews
Customer support staff interviews
Gather requirements and constraints
Use all available resources to better understand user requirements. Do not rely only on intermediary or internal sources.
Set high-level goals in the end of this process stage
Ideation / Exploration stage
Ideas, ideas, ideas
Don’t get stuck on one way or one design at this stage. The first idea is very rarely, if ever, the best one out there. Generating, exploring and testing many ideas in the beginning of the process is encouraged.
If you want to be truly innovative, egos and titles need to move aside. Good ideas can come from anywhere in the organization: Make sure your ideation session includes people from different departments, backgrounds and mindsets. Even if the management will ultimately have more influence on decision making, having diverse voices in the room is a must.
The goal of ideation is to be divergent. In a group setting people have a tendency to start converging: They start agreeing with their boss, or are subject to the bandwagon effect. To minimize this behavior, you should start the session with people working on ideas on their own first and make voting situations anonymous.
Idea generation workshops and tools:
There have been so many great articles and descriptions of idea generating workshop ideas and brainstorming techniques...Here are some of the best:
Get some great rules for brainstorming from this video by IDEO
Good insights into brainstorming in Harvard Review
Articles about brainwriting in Smashing Magazine
6-3-5 method explained
Here are some alternative approaches to traditional brainstorming
Writing user stories
Once you understand your users, you can build specific use cases. A use case is a written description of how users will perform tasks on your website. It outlines, from a user’s point of view, a system’s behavior as it responds to a request. Each use case is represented as a sequence of steps, beginning with a user's goal and ending when that goal is fulfilled.
Here is a good, brief video about what user stories are and how to write them:
Examples of user stories
As an Editor, I want to review content before it is published so that I can assure it is optimized with correct grammar and tone.
As a Marketing Manager, I need to run the sales numbers and Google analytics reports the so that I can build the monthly media campaign plans.
As a member of AAD I need to reset my password so that I can login to my account.
The problem you are trying to solve often has more than one person involved in the decision making, each with a unique relationship with the flow. Based on your research you need to list out these personas. For example:
Dermatologist who needs to find the best possible treatment for a disease A.
A PA who needs to make sure that the patient's medical background has been fully captured.
The patient that needs to understand his or her condition and the treatment for it.
Finally for each player, write down the number of steps required for them to reach their goal. For example, for the dermatologist the steps could be “Look up treatment options for disease A”, “Look up the right starting dose for the medicine”, “Look up follow-up frequency requirements” and “Check if insurance covers for the chosen treatment”.
Example project map
Another great way to understand all the different journeys, the personas' touch points with the organization and discovering new opportunities, is Journey Mapping.
Definition of Journey Mapping
Journey mapping is a process that leads to the visualization of an individual’s relationships with a product/brand over time and across different channels.
Commonly it’s represented as a timeline of all touch points between a user and a product or an organization. This timeline contains information about all channels and all interactions between the user and the product or organization.
Examples of personas and journey maps:
Prototyping and Testing
If you are designing and developing a completely new feature, new software, a new service that has a big impact on your users, consider creating and testing a prototype before development. Making changes to the prototype instead of the code is considerably cheaper and easier than changing the code. This stage, as well as discovery, will lengthen your project timeline, but is in larger projects well worth the time and effort: Please make sure to take this time into consideration when planning your project and its milestones.
Definition of a prototype
Prototype is a simulation of the final product. It’s like an interactive mockup that can have any degree of fidelity. Prototypes allow us to test the feasibility and usability of our designs before we actually begin writing code, they can also lead to unexpected discoveries and innovations that may or may not take our project beyond its initial scope.