14 Jan 2019
The Sixth Element
Noorul Ameen
#Business | 6 min read
The Sixth Element
Noorul Ameen

I had published a blog a month ago “The 5 Elements of User Experience Design”. It talks about the elements as the 5S being Strategy, Scope, Skeleton, Structure, and Surface. This concept is an excerpt from the book written by Jesse James Garrett, co-founder of Adaptive Path (Strategy and Design Consulting firm). While Garrett’s elements can help solve complex problems into simple experiences, today’s world need inspirations so problem-solvers learn from others’ mistakes and try not to “reinvent the wheel”.



I wish to introduce the sixth element of User Experience Design. This 6th S is powerful enough to combine all of its 5 precursors and create an impact or great inspiration. This secret ingredient is called the “STORY”. A story the user experience designer creates and shares will have to celebrate his design journey. The story talks about his experience in crafting a solution for all the end-user’s problems.


Why story-telling?


Why Story telling




Like all stories we hear from childhood, they have characters and a plot. And the story revolves around the experience the character goes through the script around certain stages called “scenes”. We as user experience designers should also see every product/project in this manner.



As experience designers, we have the luxury of acting both as “story-teller” and also as the “character” in the plot. We empathize with the pain-points of the “hero-of-the-story” (end user) when he goes through his journey (task) to find the happiness (completing the task).



Like every story has the usual suspects and characters depending on the genre, the User Experience (UX) Design Journey also goes through a well-curated Design Thinking process. At HashedIn User Experience, we follow a methodological Design Thinking process for any problem; big to small, critical to trivial.


Why share in the first place?

Designers need to share the story with other problem solvers in order to get inspirations and they start creating their own. Inspired minds learn from others’ mistakes and abstain from committing them. Effective communication and invigorating sharing experience happen when the story has a nice script. Like all good scripts, UX related stories should also follow industry-proven, time-tested patterns. These patterns include but not limited to the following:


Story telling Types

The HashedIn Way

I wish to introduce how we (HashedIn UX Design Team) compose our design story in the form of a Case Study. We follow the “10-point rule” to convey the story.


  1. Executive Summary
  2. Problem Statement
  3. Our Methodology
  4. Empathy Mapping
  5. User Research
  6. User Journey
  7. Current UX / UI
  8. The Design Philosophy
  9. The New Experience
  10. Return on Investment (ROI)


Executive Summary

This section will give the reader a gist about the company for whom we tried to solve the problem. We make sure the reader understands the gravity of the problem through measures like the firm’s market share, top competitors, etc. We also introduce our client’s expectations from a 32000 feet level so that the reader at least gets a sense of the problem without glancing through the rest of the sections. Garrett calls this step Strategy.



Problem Statement

This critical section usually summarizes the user experience issues arising from the product usage and/or end-user expectations. Occasionally it might also talk about:

  1. The higher churn rate of a company’s product
  2. The slower on-boarding procedures
  3. The increased documentation and help-desk support

Clarity of the problem statement clearly defines the Scope. However there is less chances of having only one issue attributing to a major problem. So we classify the problems across multiple categories like:


Problem Statement - Categories

Our Design Methodology

We @ HashedIn UX empathize with the pain points of the existing system/UI, define user experience issues and ideate on possible solutions. While designing, we make hypotheses, take “word-of-mouth” suggestions from stakeholders and move on. We later validate all our assumptions using Usability Testing, Stakeholder feedback and ROI analysis.



Design Thinking Methodology



Typically our design journey goes through the following steps:


HashedIn UX Design Journey


Empathy Mapping

On the Empathy Map, we try to plot the user’s emotions like “thinking & feeling, hearing, seeing and doing”. This technique is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we observe or study about a particular type of user. It becomes easy now to understand the major pain-points of the user and the gains the user gets when the problem is solved.


Empathy Mapping


User Research

This section contains our findings regarding user demographic/ethnographic data, preferences, and mediums used. The activity to prepare this information is called User Profiling (Personas). User Research need not be “epic”. It could be lean and agile based on the project budget and timelines.


User Persona

User Journey Map

User Journey Map will detail out all the touch-points the user goes through when using or willing to use the product/service. It is kind of a journal that the designer keeps recording the feeling, pain points and the moments of delight, all-on-one-go. User Journey can be full-fledged as below or sometimes lean based on the project’s constraints.


User Journey Map

Courtesy – Adaptive Path


Current UX/UI

This section details out the experience issue the user face on the existing system. By keeping this in mind along with the valuable data we obtained through user research, we will be having a clear picture of the new experience we wish to create.


The Design Philosophy

This section talks about the Structure and Skeleton of the newly built experience. We detail out the design considerations/goals around Interaction Design, Information Architecture and the UI design principles followed to craft this experience. The 10 core principles for great UI design are: 


  1. Predictability
  2. Consistency
  3. Progressive Disclosure
  4. Intuitiveness or Single-trial learning
  5. Context & Relevance
  6. Navigability
  7. Information Hierarchy, Scent & Depth
  8. Conventions & Metaphors
  9. Occam’s razor – The simplest solution usually tends to be the correct one
  10. Hick’s Law – Every additional choice increases the time required to make a decision



The New Experience

Here we introduce the newly crafted experience by showing the Surface, which is the visual language for the design philosophy detailed out previously. We summarize the experience enhancement obtained through the new design. We use jumbo-text and exploded views to explain the concept.


The New Experience



Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI defines the benefits of the new design and how it is compatible with the long run of the product. We detail out multiple perspectives like “meeting the short term needs of the users’ to ‘future-proofing the system with more technology capabilities like Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning”.




I feel this practice of story-telling UX case studies will be helpful for your organisation. If you wish to contribute your story, please write to us.

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