When I got to Herbalife, I was faced with a reactionary culture. We were designing things because “someone high up said to do it”. We were stuck in design churn loops, often times making 8 or more prototype iterations before developing. This wasted precious resources and time (oftentimes 6 months or more). Very little thought was given to real user need, if these requests were anecdotal, or if we were solving the real problems. I introduced the UX Brief document to facilitate conversation around the problems our users face. No UI, no solutioning, just talking about the problems from various lenses, and why they are problems. This builds consensus earlier in the process, which lead to less requirements changes, less iteration churn, and an overall more thoughtful and intentional design.
Title of the project/brief
The PRInCiPleS Framework for Design Plans & Explanations. A full paper with example can be found here. This is intended to be used at the start of the project to gain an understanding of the project. This is by no means rigid. Adapt it to the individual project. I also have an example of an ongoing UX Brief.
Frame the problem
In order to understand the value and measure success, frame the problem with the 4 Ws in mind:
• Why – Why is this a problem worth solving? Is it an acute* problem? How
acute*? *present or experienced to a severe or intense degree
• Who – Who has the problem? Have you validated it is a real problem? Can you
• What – Is the nature of the problem? Can you explain it simply? How do you
know it is a problem? What evidence is there to support it is a problem?
• Where – Does this problem arise? What is the context? Have you seen it in
context? Can you describe that context?
Predispositions are the things we believe to be true at the outset of a design
process or explanation.
Here are some questions to ask at the kickoff meeting.
• What do we know?
• What do we not know?
• What are your assumptions about the project?
• Who are the users?
• What are your assumptions about the users?
Research comes in three forms, namely:
1. observations—or primary research (user research, competitive research, what we
2. literature review—or secondary research (best practices and standards, existing
3. collections—or knowledge about cultural forms (design inspiration and cultural
Insights are the design issues that arise out of research.
Here are some questions to ask once research is synthesized.
• What did we learn?
• Does more research need to happen?
• Is this still a viable project?
• What is potentially challenging?
• Are there any gaps?
Concepts & Concept Systems
Concepts and systems of concepts are the things, services, communications, or
strategies that we envision in response to insights.
• Epics, features, user stories, sketches, lo-fi wireframes
Prototypes come in three forms, namely:
1. exploratory— or behavioral or low fidelity prototypes
2. appearance—or look and feel prototypes
3. usability—or proof of concept or high fidelity prototypes
What type of prototype is needed?
Strategies come in three forms, namely:
1. social value—or social desirability planning
2. technology—or technological feasibility planning