UX Design: 15 Deliverables for the Design Phase

By Kevin P. Nichols, Donald Chesnut

Part of UX For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The design phase of a UX (user experience) is when you actually design the solution, including the look and feel, the functionality, and the detailed specifications for how the UX will perform.

Your design phase should include these 15 deliverables:

  • A detailed sitemap that lists the major categories of information in your experience, the subcategories that fall under the main categories, and any tertiary or additional categories. For example: Animals>Cats>Hypoallergenic Cats.

  • A finalized list of features and functionality. You should account for content types with definitions for each and a description of where and when to use them.

  • Wireframes that capture what goes on a page type or template and the placement of information.

  • Navigation models that go into wireframes and show the navigation (primary, secondary, and tertiary) of the experience.

  • Page-level content strategy that lists the goals and objectives of page types and identifies who will use those pages. Include prioritized types of content necessary to accomplish and fulfill the objectives.

  • Content matrix and models that define the rules for how content is used, from templates to each module that lives within the templates.

  • Taxonomy (if necessary) that shows the hierarchy of information. The taxonomy is used to build search engine and metadata schemas.

  • Detailed end-to-end user journeys for each type of task.

  • Functional specifications that detail the rules (business rules and technology requirements) for each wireframe.

  • Visual guidelines for color, typography, and brand.

  • Visual design comps (comparables), or final drafts, that finalize the look and feel of the experience.

  • Visual style guide that captures the rules for the visual design, including measurements for each page type, colors, typography, fonts, margins and gutters, and specifications for content (such as images, videos, and so on). Include a content style guide within this document for voice, tone, and rules of use of content.

  • End-to-end content life cycles for each content type that captures who supplies the content; how it should be acquired, created, reviewed, and entered into a system, such as a CMS; how it should be tagged and published; and how it should be measured and optimized and/or retired.

  • Governance model for the overall solution that shows a governance committee and the tools used to govern the solution, such as a visual style guide.

  • List of factors you want to measure and the types of metrics you’ll use for measurement. These factors should take into account what you want your experience to achieve.

For navigation, labels, nomenclature, wireframe designs, user journeys, and taxonomies, you can take advantage of user testing to validate what you come up with. Use card sorting to figure out how to group information and label it. Reverse card sorting (tree testing) can validate a navigation and taxonomy after an initial iteration of it. Use clickable prototypes to test wireframes, the placement of information, and navigation. You can also use participatory design techniques to test visual design comps.