You can't build any good design without studying your users.
Through qualitative and quantitative research my goals are to discover unmet needs and validate ideas or potential solutions.
But research is almost useless if not communicated properly. For that intent, I built a couple of research systems to organize, classify, and make learnings accessible to everyone.
User Research opens your world to other possibilities as soon as you connect people to other people, and their related experiences.
Mapping user journeys and services allow to find gaps, new opportunities, and envision the future.
Then, it's about planning what's next to be built, a collaborative work done with product people and stakeholders, keeping in mind resources, budget, and technology constraints.
I have about fourteen years of design experience, and the past seven years I designed complex web applications in the healthcare and life-sciences industries.
My favorite tools for designing, prototyping and sharing ideas are Figma, Principle, Invision Studio, and Realtimeboard.
I use Design Thinking as a foundational framework.
Solving people's problem is always different, organizations are unique, therefore it is important to understand the limits of your organization, your business goals and the people you're designing for.
The five steps of this process are not equal and depend on projects, timeline, budget, and culture.
For example, in some organizations like Intuit, research is a key component of how stakeholders build empathy with their users and customers. In other organizations it's underestimated.
So when you can't really conduct research, you try to learn as much as you can inside your organization. It's not enough for a good design approach, but it's a positive attitude that can lead you to successful outcomes.
I learned this at Illumina (2011-2015). While I was always pushing for conducting user research, it wasn't always possible, and my managers recommended me to interview stakeholders, and in-house scientists. It's true that people inside your organization may have strong assumptions, but it's important to understand everyone's perspective.
You can find an example of this process in the Genepeeks Analysis report article.