I loved putting together personas with my team, which will then become very precious resource that we can use throughout the life of a product. Personas and storyboards help the team keep in mind what our users are like, and when and where they use our services.
In the example of the image below, the storyboards were made when we were designing a brand new social feature in the app. The storyboards helped us keep in mind some essential things about how users use this feature, like time, location, etc.
Conducting in-depth user interviews is always a very good and fun qualitative approach to me. In general, I just love to talk to the users of my apps, because there's always so much to learn from them. P.S. I love to add card sorting exercises to interviews, to give participants some break, as well as some fun - most of them love it!
In the image below: research participant playing card sorting. The exercise: given a list of photo editing & retouching activities, place them into 4 categories - "Most Important To Me", "Nice-to-have", "Least Important To Me", "What Is This?".
I found paper prototypes even more helpful when designing features with complex controls and requires higher level flexibility.
In the example of the image below, I made a bunch of fake makeup parts UI with sticky notes, and printed redesigned screens and some widgets that will be repeatedly used in the interface. It saved tons of time by testing with this paper prototype rather than building a more hi-fi digital clickable prototype - it just gave so much flexibility.
Image below: Origami prototypes vs. Sketch prototypes
I do usability tests with colleagues, users (in house or remote), friends, or even with random people on the streets. To me, usability tests is a great tool that I can use to first find problems with the designs I have, and second, to convince the team that we need to do this in order to achieve that - it's just so helpful when you do usability tests with your colleagues, or at least have them involved in the tests, they get to understand why something they think is beautiful or elegant would be confusing and misleading for real users.
Image: remote usability tests via Zoom (with Zoom, participants can share both their screen and their video, so you get to watch them interact with the prototype as well as their facial expression - to see if they get confused).
The app I currently work for is localized in 7 languages. I coordinate both copy writing and the localizaion process. I believe in-app copy should be a close friend of design, so I write the first draft of in-app copy when designing, and then work with the copy review and localization team to get the copy reviewed, localized, and tested in the designs (some languages always have very long copy that needs to be taken extra care of).
Image: examples of our localization process. Screenshot helps the localization team understand the real UX.
Building a pattern library and then a design system is just one of the best decisions I made in my life. It saves me and also the dev team tons of time. Then another designer joined and it gets even better. I just love it. I even wrote a series for it on Medium.
Read my Medium stories about design systems and pattern libraries HERE.