Why Process Doesn’t Matter

A woman applying her design process
Image from Undraw

If you’re anything like me, you have dozens of bookmarks describing different design processes. And if you really got it bad, your YouTube history is probably inundated with videos from self-proclaimed (and some actual) experts. From user research and personas to mental models and user testing, and everything else in between.

One book proclaims this design process is best; another YouTube video announces the only design process you should ever use; Oh! And that email blast you just got in your inbox — there’s another must-use design process in there as well.

With so much information coming from myriad sources on the internet, it can be easy to find ourselves doubting our own design processes, and that’s what brings me here today to tell you:

There is no right process.

Those who proclaim what the right answer is don’t know the answer any better than you or me. This is very important to note. It’s important because using the “right process” as a crutch for designing products can be dangerously irresponsible, and here’s why:

Users are not one-size-fits-all.

If the process is how you measure success, then you’ll follow each step meticulously until you reach the end of your process feeling as though you succeeded and accomplished what you sought out to accomplish.

But here’s the catch: shouldn’t the ultimate accomplishment be a happy end-user? Shouldn’t some KPI indicating positive UX engagement be how we measure success instead of following some specific process to a T?

It’s been my experience that when you prioritize and optimize for happy users, the process you use matters less than the end result. In fact, your process to create happy users may not be very pretty, or clean, or perfectly labeled.

But that's okay — those things don’t matter as much if you’re making your users happy.

Woman walking with a smiley face balloon
Woman walking with a smiley face balloon
Image from Undraw

In summary, no single process guarantees success every time. Design, by nature, is dynamic and responsive. It’s supposed to change according to the product and user.

As UX professionals, we have to not only be okay with that uncertainty but relish in the opportunity it permits for us to create extraordinary and personalized user experiences.

Happy user first, process second.

Designer of experiences and digital products — based in NYC. Your white space is safe with me.