Our path to good design: SHERPATH

Have you designed how you design?

We know it sounds like a nursery rhyme, but this is a question worth thinking about. If you are looking for a digital studio to support you in your design processes, ask the candidates’ representatives this question first. Let us tell you why.

The concept of design is so prevalent in today’s business world that it can not be defined only by adjectives such as creative, aesthetic and beautiful. This phenomenon is a result of the fame that design thinking has gained worldwide. 

When we look back, we see that design used to come after engineering and production in a hierarchical sense and it was perceived as the last step before the launch to make the product more aesthetic. We know that this has resulted in many innovations failing to meet customers’ actual needs. Only after companies began to move the design phase to the beginning of the production process, designers’ impact increased significantly and human-centred solutions started to come to the table. 

Of course, for this approach to be accepted and used across large companies, it had to fit into a certain model or framework. This is how design thinking, the framework leveraging creative design process for solving business problems, has earned its much deserved popularity.

Design Thinking Diagram

The diagram was designed by Nielsen Norman Group. 

This is what the cycle you see above tells in a nutshell: First, empathize with the audience and identify their needs/problems correctly. Next, come up with ideas that would meet these needs and test the validity of the solution you are leaning towards. Once the implementation is done, go back to the first step and start again.

What makes this approach -and therefore the concept of design- so valuable is that it is not limited to the business context alone. You can also use this methodology when you have an important decision to make in your personal life.

SHERPATH

This methodology inspired us to embrace the motto “Everything is design” here at SHERPA. Unlike those who dream of an alluring visual interface when design is mentioned, we think of systems and methodologies. Although our final output as a digital design studio is often a Photoshop or Sketch file, we are aware that what we call design is a process and that we cannot ensure the quality and sustainability of our work unless we have an accurate design methodology in place. This is why we came up with SHERPATH.

We applied this lean approach, inspired by globally accepted principles and models, in more than a hundred projects and made several iterations to increase its efficiency. 

The logic of our methodology is in line with design thinking. Regardless of project scope, we begin with the Discovery phase and ask three basic questions: 

  • What goals do we want to achieve? 
  • What are our constraints?
  • What can we further improve?

 We don’t continue the process without agreeing on the answers with the project owner.

We begin the Discovery phase by analysing research reports that our project owner shares with us so that we can take advantage of the existing insights and not dig for the answers that are readily available. Next, we conduct qualitative/quantitative data analysis and deepen our insight pool by analyzing data from measurement tools are set up on digital products and by interviewing stakeholders/users.

After the Discovery phase, we start the conceptual process of design we call Ideation. By asking questions like:

  • How do we define our personas?
  • What should their ideal journey look like?

We define the right design solution. Let’s highlight that we still don’t have design deliverable (in the classic sense) at this point.

In the third stage, Creation, we are interested in answering the question “how do we design it right?”. We work on the wireframe and UI designs in this direction and reveal the visible part of the iceberg.

Finally, as you can see in the diagram, activities in the research phase can come into the picture any point in the cycle. While research conducted in the Discovery phase aims to bring new insights on users to the table, a usability test following wireframe design might allow us to validate or debunk our design logic.

Digital transformation with SHERPATH

Let us tell you about one of the success stories we have created with SHERPATH.

In 2018, we partnered with Eureko Insurance, a subsidiary of globally known insurance group Achmea, for redesigning the user experience of their corporate website and online branch.

Ethnographic research conducted recently and workshops we run during Discovery phase with target personae and the project owner revealed that users had a hard time while browsing and buying insurance policies online, and the main reason for that they find the insurance ecosystem in Turkey very complicated, far from creating a perception of trust. 

Building on this insight, we worked on several approaches to address this problem during Ideation and we decided to position Eureko as a “hero brand” guiding users during every step of the journey by accurately describing the benefits of buying an insurance policy and the nuances among various products rather than focusing on hastily closing a sale. 

In the Creation phase, we worked on a design solution that would communicate this approach clearly to the users and designed the information architecture that would allow them to find what they need easily.

Eureko Insurance Home Page – Old
Eureko Insurance Home Page – New

We prototyped and tested alternative interaction scenarios with users and decided to move on with “conversational UI” approach that felt very familiar to users who communicate through digital devices on a daily basis. Most participants validated the idea that buying insurance by chatting with a virtual assistant would feel more natural and hassle-free compared to filling out conventional forms.

To sum up, defining user needs through quantitative and qualitative research and validating alternative solutions with potential users, we were able to manage Eureko’s transformation with a user-centric approach.

Car Insurance Form – Old vs. New

Last but not least, as SHERPATH highlights, it is crucial to revisit the Discovery phase after the new experience has put in place. Restarting the design cycle and measuring the new experience’s performance based on users’ digital footprints is what makes UX optimization possible.  

To conclude, digital products/services that are designed with “we know best” mentality and ready-made solutions are highly likely to stay behind the competition. A design partner equipped with a design system of global standards  -whether its name is as cool as SHERPATH or not- would be much more likely to create solutions that would make you and your users happy. Applying design thinking is imperative for standardizing creative processes and enabling sustainability in terms of design quality. This is why our best advice would be to ask your potential design partner this question: “Have you designed how you design?”

We’d love to meet you.

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