Starting the UX Design Process

The second course in my certification is called “Start the UX Design Process: Empathize, Define, and Ideate.”

Grade: 92.50%

Here are a few highlights from my notes.

Key Takeaways

Empathy is design is important because it helps designers understand the user’s needs. It’s also very important to have a diverse group of users for doing research as well as on your team when doing ideation, which will help overcome our own biases.

Best Practices for Giving Peer Review Feedback

  • Understand the activity
  • Provide descriptive feedback
  • Pick 2-3 things you like (positives first)
  • Pick 2-3 things that could be improved (give actionable advice)
  • Be respectful and kind

Best Practices for Receiving Feedback

  • Stay open-minded
  • Remember your goal
  • Keep your own agency

Understanding Empathy in UX Design

  • Ask lots of questions
  • Become more observant
  • Be an active listener
  • Request input
  • Have an open mind
  • Keep current on UX research

Survey Participants

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Managers
  • Peers
  • People you don’t know
    • Online groups
    • Social media
    • Third party recruiting

Determine Research Goals & Questions

  • Determine your goals
  • Writer interview questions
    • Open-ended
    • Short & simple
    • Ask follow-up questions

Conducting User Interviews

  • Meet participant
    • Build a good rapport
    • Thank them for coming
    • Review legal details
    • Gather basic details
    • Let them know there are no right or wrong answers
  • Conduct interviews
    • Follow interview ettiquette
    • Ask open-ended questions (why)
    • Take notes!
      • Compelling quotes
      • Document observations
      • Record
    • Wrap up -> show gratitude

Empathy Map

build an empathy map around the user

Identify User Pain Points

  • Financial (paywall)
  • Product (quality)
  • Process (stop user – cart > checkout)
  • Support (answers to questions)


Fictional users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users.

  • Build empathy
  • Tell stories
  • Stress-test designs

Advantages of User Stories

  • Prioritize design goals
  • Unite the team
  • Inspire empathetic design decisions
  • Personalize pitches to stakeholders
As a ________ (type of user), I want to ________ (action), so that ________ (benefit).

Happy Path

A user story with a happy ending.

Spotting and Resolving Edge Cases

  • Create personas and user stories
  • Thoroughly review project before launch
  • User wireframes (visualize)

User Journey

The series of experiences a user has as they achieve a specific goal.

Accessibility is design, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities.

  • Touch
  • See
  • Hear
  • Speak

Define problem statements (who, what, where, when, why, & how)

________ (user name) is a/an ________ (user characteristics) who needs ________ (user need) because ________ (insight).

Define Hypothesis Statements

  • If/then
  • No standard formula

Value Proposition

Why a consumer should use a product or service.

  • What does your product do? (clearly explain the offering that your product provides to users)
  • What should they care? (describe how your product addresses users’ pain points)

Build Value Propositions

  1. Describe your products’ features and benefits
  2. Explain the value
  3. Connect these features and benefits with the needs of your users
  4. Review your official value proposition list

Ideation in the real world

Ideation – the process of generating a broad set of ideas on a given topic, with no attempt to judge or evaluate them.

  • Brainstorming out loud
  • Document all ideas
  • Focus on quantity
  • Do now allow evaluation
  • Gather a diverse team
  • Question the obvious

Take a break, then evaluate the ideas.

Competitive Audit

An interview of your competitor’s strengths & weaknesses

  • Identify key competitors
  • Review the products they offer
  • Understand how they position themselves in the market
  • Examine what they do well & what they could do better

Direct Competitors – have offerings that are similar to your product and focus on the same audience.

Indirect Competitors – have a similar set of offerings but focus on a difference audience, or have a different set of offerings and focus on the same audience.

Benefits of a Competitive Audit

  • Inform your design process
  • Solve usability problems
  • Reveal gaps in the market
  • Provide reliable evidence
  • Same time, money, and energy


  • Stifle creativity
  • Depends on how well you interpret findings
  • Not all designs work in all use cases
  • Need to be done regularly

Steps for Audit

  1. Outline the goals
  2. Create spreadsheet with list of competitors (5-10 direct, 5-10 indirect)
  3. Call out specific aspects to compare
  4. Research each company (what do they do well or not?)
  5. Analyze findings (similarities to your product and each other)
  6. Summarize findings in report (screenshots and simple graphics)

Best Practices for Ideating

  • Do creative warmup
  • Make sure problem is well-defined
  • Don’t judge your ideas
  • Don’t judge others’ ideas
  • Include a diverse group
  • Ideate in a comfortable environment
  • Don’t be afraid of sketching