A framework for evidence-based design

I’ve recently been thinking about how to pull together the Evidence-Based UX Design Guide I’ve built up over the last year. All the separate methods are great but it has been lacking an overarching explanation for how to use them together. Hence me delving into my infographic skills to pull together this diagram.

It’s a first draft, so I’d welcome any feedback but here it is with a few notes explaining some of the principles. The diagram features five sections, two are distinct and three blur into each other, which is an important feature.

A framework for evidence-based UX design


Shown in yellow. Generally this is quantitative data and where you should start (moving in a clockwise direction from here). These are the numbers and metrics that help you understand what is happening with your website (or app). This gives you a sense of the size of any problems you face, like conversion rates dropping.

This blurs into green when we reach things like Mouse Heatmaps and Visitor Recordings, which are strictly speaking quantitative data but they do start to give clues as to ‘why’ something is an issue.


Shown in green. This is more qualitative data: the methods that help you understand why something is a problem or why users aren’t converting on your site. Once you know what your problem is you move to these methods to dig deeper and get to the bottom of the causes.

This blurs into blue at the Field Research stage, as this kind of deep user research not only shows you why people behave as they do but can also tell you how to solve these problems.


Shown in blue. Once you’ve gathered the what and the why, you can now decide how to tackle the problem by starting to design solutions yourself. These are the methods that you can use to gather evidence as you are designing.

This ends with A/B Testing, where you will generally release your new version to the world and can then gather more quantitative data. Note: I use Guerrilla User Testing mostly for prototypes, hence its position here but you can use it in the why section too.

Now the two distinct sections:


At the heart of the process sits your users. The methods of Surveys, Audience Data, and Personas will help you understand who you are designing for. This sits outside the general flow as you can discover this at various points in the project and also because they *should* remain fairly consistent as you design.


At the top of the diagram are four unlabelled methods (there might be a name I can use for these?). They are Articles & Blogs, Client or Stakeholder Knowledge, Expert Audits, and Friends & Family Opinions. They sit on the perimeter around the other methods as they can feature at any time and can help you answer the what, why, and how.


The idea is to put all the methods in context and help you understand roughly what order to gather evidence in and what role each plays. By no means do I expect people to gather every type of evidence for every project (as my guide shows, some are more useful than others) but it’s good to pick a few different types.

It should also help you see if your process is lopsided and includes too much of one type of evidence. I’ve had to put them into a fixed order for this framework, which might artificially position a few methods but I think generally it works out pretty well.

You might disagree though. Is there anything unclear about this process and diagram? Any ways I could make it clearer? Let me know via an email or a tweet.

Last updated on 15 August 2017

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