Hi my name is
Connor Thomsen

I am a digital product designer from New Zealand currently working for Roam Creative. Feel free to add me with a message on Linkedin if you want to get in touch.

Being a digital product designer to me means that I’m responsible for not only the User experiences, but also making sure that the experiences being designed and built have a purpose. Many amazing people have contributed their knowledge to me which has shaped the method I take to designing products into what it is now, and I’m sure as I continue to grow, the method will too.

Here’s how I design products

The first thing to design is a list of workshops that fit all of the key stakeholders needs and availability so we can all have a shared understanding of the four following areas.

Users

We need to agree on who the target user for a product is, and to do that we need to answer questions like; What do the users want? what do they need? what are they afraid of? What does a typical journey look like for them and where a long that journey do they struggle?

Problem

We all need to agree and define the problem clearly based on the insights we got from defining our users. This is where we define the promise that we’ll be making to them.

Solution

How exactly are we going to keep the promise we’ve just made? what are the experiences we need to design to do that?

Opportunity

Lastly we all need to be very clear on the goal. This could be a business or social goal it doesn’t matter, whats important is that we know what we’re aiming for and we know when we’ve succeeded.

Define assumptions

For all four of these areas we’re going to end up with assumptions, some assumptions you could probably validate if you had more time in this discovery phase but ideally most of them you just wont be able to definitively validate with research. It’s important to have all of the stakeholders on the same page because the assumptions are the key. The whole point is that we all agree on what we’re going to build to test these assumptions and make changes if we need to based on what we learn, to take us to our goal.

Design

Now it’s time to take all that information from those four areas and all of those assumptions and start wire framing and sketching different ways people could potentially experience the product. Decide what patterns to use. Run usability tests to make sure people can complete tasks and see if they find it easier to use than any alternative solutions. Talking with the Devs to see how we can leverage technology (and sometime have your wildest dreams crushed). Create a style guide and set type create a slick looking UI, and then design the 50 things you [Probably] forgot to design.

Metrics and launch

It’s important to define the metrics that you’re going to use to validate or invalidate your assumptions before you launch. I’m a firm believer in actionable metrics. Metrics that truly reflect the progress your product is making towards its goal based on its engine of growth (although that engine itself can also be an assumption) Eric Reis talks about metrics a lot in his book The Lean Start up, but a statement he made in it has stuck with me.

“If you launch a product just to see what happens, you’ll succeed in only doing that”

So if you don’t know what you’re testing or you if you cant get meaningful data to take action then you wont be able to learn anything about your product, and you wont be able to make it better.

Presentations

I’ve learned that the most compelling way to present work to stakeholders is with a story where the user is the protagonist. Joseph Campbells “The hero with a thousand faces” points out that the structure for almost all stories across all cultures. It’s a very effective way to get your audience to pay attention to what you have to say as well as get them to build empathy with your user and then sign off the work.