UxD and Me


January 13th, 2023

Qu Benjamin-Gilliam

Personal reflection

Learning about user research and user experience design was one of my favourite parts of the master’s programme as I come from a research and psychology background so learning that I can use what I have previously learned combined with what Steph and Chris has taught us was a relief as I don’t believe I want to actually become a UX/UI designer like most people on the course. Using user research will help me pinpoint my target audience and fully meet their needs with my major project while user experience design will make the user experience enjoyable for the user.

What is User Research?

User design research discovers how usable something is and how pleasurable that something is to use. However, before you are able to answer these questions, you must conduct research to understand use and that is what user research is. It is in depth and thorough research that focuses on the relationship between services and/or products and individuals within the context of real-life situations and settings. User research begins with seeking answers to questions about the user, such as what their needs are. It seeks to know what the triggers, barriers, behaviours, motivations of the users are and the reason behind certain decisions that users make. User research seeks to know if the current interfaces that users use increase or decrease their confidence while using them and making decisions. It is so vital to conduct user research and testing before and during the design and/or developing a product or service stage as it can be very costly and time consuming. Knowing who your users are, what they are looking for and what is suitable for them makes all the difference in design.

My plan for my Major Project is to implement what I have learned about user research to further meet my user’s needs. I am very much new to the process, and I am sure I may make mistakes along the line, but my end goal is to use my findings of my user research to improve the user experience. This will be my outline/ “plan of action” for the developing and designing of my major project. 

Implementing User Research

Steph explained that a common first step in the research process is capturing the users needs. The user needs statement/user story of:

 “As a {user role/persona} 

I need to {do what I need to do} 

In order to {accomplish goal}” is what I will be using as the first step of the thinking process of conducting user research. Here is an example of how I have implemented the user needs statement: 

“As a person who wants to make my own skin products at home

I need to learn about the ingredients and how to combine them

In order to successfully make the products” 

Although this helps me begin to think from the user’s perspective, I also wanted to use a variation of the user needs statement/user story:

“As a {who}

I want {do what}

So that I can {have an outcome(why)}”

How I used it:

“As a person who is new to creating homemade products for the first time

I want to learn the process easily

So that I can successfully and confidently create and use homemade products with ease”

This user needs statement/user story helps me to understand a bit more of the user’s needs rather than just the surface level of their needs. However, everyone’s needs are different and what I think user needs are may be different than what their actual needs are. Therefore, I will use this as practice to train my brain to focus on needs and I may use this as a basis for testing.

Product promise

Another aspect of user research is understanding what problem my website solves, how exactly the website solves that problem and what promise I am making to users. Once I establish this, it helps me to understand what users are expecting. Here is how I have answered these questions for my major project:

The problem that my website will solve: There are many social media platforms and websites that show you certain aspects of creating skincare but not fully. My website will provide a one stop place for education on ingredients, tutorials on how to combine them and create a range of skincare products and provide direct contact with me for questions, concerns and/or guidance. 

How my website solves this problem: My website will provide an easy, simple, step by step guide on educating users on the ingredients required to make your own skincare products, their benefits and how to combine them safely, successfully and effectively. 

What I am promising users: Easy to understand education and tutorials. I am promising users that the recipes I provide are safe and effective. 

While the research and designing process isn’t linear, I will use the double diamond as a rough guidance on how the design process should look for me as I go through the process. I have begun exploring the problem through the discovery (discovering the problem I am trying to solve and the landscape of the problem) and defining (deciding which problems I am actually able to solve, discovering different ways to solve the problem and deciding which way I will solve the problem) aspect of the double diamond. And then I will begin framing the solution by working through the develop and deliver aspect of the double diamond. 

Setting Research Objectives

Steph explained to us the reason for having research objectives, it helps us determine the appropriate type of methodology for our chosen research. The research objective is to state a clear goal for what we are looking to achieve. The research objective is used as a guidance in designing the research we wish to conduct. It is also used as an instrument to align on research outcomes. 

The research objectives can either be semi open ended, open ended, close ended, open ended and exploratory. Being that my major project is a website that provides education and tutorials on how to create safe, effective and sustainable skincare products it is content driven with a specific target audience; those who want to create healthy skincare products but are new to the subject. As of now, my focus is on the users, creating an easy and enjoyable user experience. I’ve created user personas of example users from my target audience, this is to assist me with creating a website that is effective and useful. However, I will not base my final product off of just user personas, I will also conduct testing with actual users in order to receive feedback and make appropriate changes. Once I have completed the four stages of the double diamond, I will then move on to the monitor and optimise stage. I will closely monitor how users interact and use my website and optimise it appropriately for user needs. 

During the beginning stages I believe I will use open ended and exploratory research objectives to explore and understand how the concept of the website may work and users’ assumptions about the website. The goal is to answer the question of how people understand the website proposition and what they are expecting. However, later once my major project is close to being completed, I will use a semi-open ended research objective to validate my existing assumptions and search for an opportunity to add a unique spin to the website. The focus will be on the ease of use, how well users understand the website, their attitudes towards the website and to know if users would use the website the way I have designed the website to be used. This is the final stage of the double diamond, the final “comb-through” to find any errors or little tweaks that I could fix.


There are many various research methods that can easily become overwhelming. However, methodology means how you decide to approach your chosen research. It is deciding who you will speak to, and why, which approach or method you decide to use and why. The various methods range from an open-ended (formative/ generative) to close-ended (summative/ evaluative). However, a common way to look at research is from a qualitative versus quantitative method. Quantitative research tends to look at numbers, it can be calculated and countered while qualitative research is usually subjective and gathered through conversations, interviews etc. They can also be behavioural which focuses on “how they behave” or attitudinal which focuses on “what they think”. It is most useful to use a variety of methods in order to avoid biases and to be provided with well-rounded findings. For my major project I will not be using behavioural research as it is most commonly used for products and in my case, I’m not creating a product but a service. However, I believe I will conduct qualitative research as I would like to know about user’s behaviours and attitudes directly from the user. 

What is User Experience Design?

User experience design is the design process in which the designer focuses on the user and the user’s needs at every stage/phase of the design process. This design process requires designers to use users throughout the entire design process through various research and design techniques in order to develop a highly usable and inclusive product. There are three key factors to take into consideration when designing for a solution. The three components are:

The user: how desirable for them to use and can they actually use it?

The business: is it sustainable for the designer, will they make revenue out of this?

The technology: does the technology exist to allow the design to come to life and to the user? 

It is the intersection of these three components where great design is found. User experience design takes the information gathered during research and strategically turns that raw material into insights to inspire and develop designs.

Representing your research

It is very important to get your research findings off of the computer or paper and onto walls. It helps you visualise the pain points and needs better. There are several ways to represent your research.

One way is through personas, characters who represent the behaviours and attitudes of your research findings. This helps designers to visualise who exactly they are designing for and your target audience.

Job statement is another way to express the desired outcomes that the target audience is expecting. It is a framework to help distill the research to outcomes which will lead to action. Job statements don’t dictate the solutions you will design but they frame the outcome that is needed as a result of the design.

Additionally, a user journey map is a great way to represent your research. User journey maps are a good way to show research that requires users to go through a sequence of activities to reach the users end goal. A user journey map provides clarity to designers who are dealing with a large amount of research.

However, for my major project I’ve decided to use empathy maps. It is a great tool which helps designers to keep the user at the center of mind when designing. It is a simple and clear way to express the users I will be designing for. I will begin with a basic empathy map and then dive deeper with a more in-depth empathy map.

simple/basic empathy map I will use
the more in depth empathy map I will use


It is important to have a sense of the whole design before diving into specific aspects. UI flows is a great place to start. User interface flows are a lightweight, scalable information architecture tool. UI flows provides a high level of information and insight on the entire website as a whole. I will begin my UI flow by mapping the system of the website. I will begin by identifying each page/ step within the website and what each page/ step actually does. This technique will help me to sketch out and adjust the flow of the system without having to dive deeply into every single page within it. I will use the format of describing what the user sees/ what they do. This will include all of the touch points within my website.

UI flow template

In Summary 

The process of developing a product for users can be thought of in two steps composed of smaller steps. The first step is researching the problem/ pain points then the second step is to design a solution based on the problem/ pain points found through user research. My main goal is conducting research and designing a solution that will provide users with a great user experience and to meet their assumptions. While I am still in the beginning stages of my major project, I am still deciding on how I want certain things to be and designed. However, I would like to design a website that educates, entertains and provides guidance in a way that is best for the users. This means as a designer I have a responsibility to ensure there are no biases and that all research is well rounded and inclusive. 

Useful links I used…





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