Basia Coulter

UX Research, Strategy, and Design

Expertise

Product Discovery

User story map

Product discovery is a foundation of product success. While a number of methods and activities can be employed in the process, I find a discovery workshop to be a useful format to bring together the stakeholders and the product team, and to build a shared understanding around the problem to be solved, the target user group(s), and potential solutions.

I leverage Agile user story mapping, a technique popularized by Jeff Patton, as a tool to quickly unpack an application, to identify user flows and tasks, and to arrive at a defintion of a minimum viable product (MVP).

UX Research and Strategy

A user journey map

Understanding the needs and mental models of the user base is the necessary foundation for identifying strategy and designing user experience.

Based on the information gathered in conversations with stakeholders and users, competitive landscape reviews, content audits, and discovery workshops, I help product teams understand the intended experience that brings about market relevance and adds business value.

Information Architecture

Popular placement matrix from a card sorting study

Establishing information architecture at the onset of a project helps product teams create scalable systems. Keeping in mind end users’ mental models helps design and build products that are easy to use and that support customer retention.

I construct systems' information architecture in an iterative process of testing and refining. Through card sorting, treejack testing, first-click testing, and in-person usability testing, I arrive at taxonomies and information architecture that support user goals and outcomes.

Prototyping

CodePen prototype of a color palette

In the human-centered design process, prototyping is a way to bring ideas to life in order to test them with users. Depending on project needs, low or high fidelity prototypes may help validate or disqualify approaches to product design.

Guided by project objectives, timelines, and budgetary constraints, I deliver paper or digital prototypes to solicit feedback and iterate on ideas. When prototyping in code, I build HTML/CSS using Sass, Stylus, or LESS as a CSS pre-processor. Sometimes a quick pen in CodePen is all that’s needed to grasp an initial concept and move the project forward.

Product Design

Interface design (work done for Weejee Learning)

Product design is a process of planning and expressing solutions that support business and user goals. Building an experience that works for end users and delivers business value requires an understanding of business objectives, desired user outcomes, and properties of human cognition that power our interactions with the surrounding objects, including digital products.

As a communication tool, design functions very much like a language. By tapping into the properties of human perception, and relying on usability heuristics, I design products to communicate function and facilitate seamless user experience.

Design Leadership

Talk and hands-on activity on user story mapping for ExploreUX, Raleigh. Photo credit: Michelle Chin

In the fast-paced reality of modern day software development, and particularly with the adoption of Agile software development methods, design faces unique challenges and has to adapt in order to stay relevant. Strong design leadership and advocacy are needed for design to stand as an equal partner side-by-side with software engineering.

I take every opportunity to champion design among software development communities, and to explain its role as a tool that helps bring about market relevance and add business value by supporting user goals and outcomes. I share experience with fellow designers and strategists at local meetups and participate in local communities, especially those that focus on women in technology such as Women Who Code, Girl Develop It, or Ladies that UX.