10 Second Test

Users get 10 seconds to view a web page and then are asked what they saw.  Most users spend 10-30 seconds glancing at a webpage or app before moving on.
This helps designers understand  what the most visible thing on the page is. If it’s not what the designer wants the user to see first, then the design needs reworking.


Adaptive web design

Fixed-width designs for multiple viewport sizes. The system detects what size screen they’re using and serves a website designed specifically for that viewing experience.

Affinity diagramming

A way to organize ideas into groups based on their relationships. Often used to review and analyze pain points and delights along a user journey.

Agile software development

A development method that uses iteration and feedback to launch and refine products. Two to four week sprints are generally conducted repeatedly throughout the year, following a proscribed method of planning, coding, and testing for continuous product evolution and feature integration.

Analysis stage

The stage of the product design process where insights are drawn from data collecting during the earlier Research stage.


A broad term that encompasses a variety of tools that collect quantitative information about the use of a website or application.


Beta launch

The limited launch of a software product with the goal of finding bugs before final launch.


The process of creating and marketing a consistent idea or image of a product or company.


Card sorting

A technique used to understand how users sort information into categories and hierarchies.

Content Management System (CMS)

Software like WordPress that provides a user-friendly interface for publishing, editing and maintaining content. See also: Content management

Collaborative design

Working closely with users, stakeholders and the project team to gain buy-in and develop user-centered products that meet stakeholder goals.

Competitor analysis

Research around competitor websites and apps to understand the competitive landscape and identify business and technology opportunities.

Comparative analysis

Performing a feature by features comparison of comparable applications or businesses to understand trends and user expectations.

Content management

Processes and technology for collecting and publishing information.

Contextual enquiry

Conducting research with users in situ in order to understand how they interact with applications or systems.

Content audit

Reviewing and cataloguing a client’s existing content usually in order to make changes to the content strategy or information architecture.

Customer Journey Map

A diagram of your users’ interactions with your product including their emotions as they interact with it or complete tasks. See also: Experience Map


Design ethnography

Observational research of customers/users in-situ using your product or interacting with your company. The ethnography focuses on watching what the user actually does in a real world situation rather than in a lab or answering questions.

Design sprint

In Agile development methodologies, the design spring comes before the development sprint. At the end of the design sprint, wireframes and UIs are handed off to the engineers for their development sprint.

Diary study

Asking users to record their experiences and thoughts about a product or task in a journal over a set period of time.


Experience Map

a diagram of your users’ interactions with your product including their emotions as they interact with it or complete tasks. See also: Customer Journey Map


Focus groups

User interviews conducted with small groups of people (usually 5-10). Focus groups are useful when understanding how teams of people work together, or as a way to speed the interview process by speaking with many users at once.


Guerrilla usability testing

Quick, low cost testing with any available users in informal situations (friends, colleagues, people on the street, in a coffee shop). It enables real user feedback without a large investment in time or money. A response to traditional, formalized lab testing, the guerrilla testing gets research results to designers quickly.


Happy path

The frequent and critical activities that users will perform on your site. They are complete activities, not single tasks, and will probably require several pages to execute. Defining the happy paths for your site means that you’ll be able to identify and eliminate any usability obstacles on the key user journeys.

Heuristic review

Evaluating a website or app and documenting usability flaws and other areas for improvement based on a check-list of usability best practices.

Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

HCI involves the study, planning, and design of the interaction between people (users) and computers.

High-fidelity prototype

A prototype which is quite close to the final product, with lots of detail and a good indication of the final proposed aesthetics and functionality.

Human factor

Also called ergonomics. The scientific discipline of studying interactions between humans and external systems, including human-computer interaction. When applied to design, the study of human factors seeks to optimize both human well-being and system performance.


Industrial design

The application of art and science to the design of physical product to be manufactured through techniques of mass production. Aesthetics, ergonomics, functionality, and usability design.

Information architecture (IA)

The art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability;

Information scent

An important concept in wayfinding, referring to the extent to which users can predict what they will find if they pursue a certain path through a website. As animals rely on scents to indicate the chances of finding food, humans rely on various cues in the information environment to achieve their goals. See: wayfinding.

Interaction design (IxD)

The design of granular interactions between people and products. Interaction design focuses on how users and technology communicate with each other in order to anticipate how someone might interact with the system in order to invent engaging interfaces with delightful and predictable behaviors

Interaction model

A set of design patterns that are consistent throughout an application. (e.g. If a button works one way on the home screen, it should work the same way every place in the application.) See: pattern library


The act of repeating the design process in order to refine and improve the product. Each repetition of the process is also called an iteration.

Iterative design

A methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process. Based on the results of testing the most recent iteration of a design, changes are made.


Lean UX

Inspired by Lean and Agile development theories, Lean UX speeds up the UX process by putting less emphasis on deliverables and greater focus on the actual experience being designed.

Low-fidelity prototype

A quick and easy rendering of the design concept into tangible and testable artifacts, giving an indication of the direction that the product is heading. Often used for usability testing during the iterative design process.


Mood Board

A collage, either physical or digital, which is intended to communicate the visual and emotional style of a design or brand.


A rough model of a product that shows how the finished version should look. Generally used in the visual design stage of the product design process, mockups are not functional like prototypes.



Needfinding is the art of talking to people and discovering their needs—both those they might explicitly state, and those hidden beneath the surface. It is only in truly understanding people and workflow that we can gain meaningful insights to inspire and inform a final, impactful design.


Paper prototype

A rough, often hand-sketched or cut-out to simulate a user interface. Used in a usability test to gather feedback, participants point to locations on the page that they would click, and screens are manually presented to the user based on the interactions they indicate.


A composite identity constructed based on a group of users with similar goals and desires. Used to ensure differing groups or goals are represented in the UI.

Production stage

The stage at which the product is being engineered or built. The role of the product designer shifts from creating and validating to collaborating with developers to guide and champion the vision and ensure fealty to the designs.

Project kick-off

The formally recognized start of a project, usually a meeting in which all the product team gathers to learn about the goal of the project.

Progressive reveal

An design technique that reveals only the interactions or steps the user requires at that moment in the user flow. Often found in long online forms, the goal is to maintain the user’s focus by reducing the number of input boxes on the screen at one time.


A rough working model of a product that shows how the finished version should function. Prototypes can be as simple as a paper mockup to a beta version that is being tested with live users.



A series of questions and other prompts used to gather information.


Research stage

Also known as the discovery stage during which time the product team is researching competitors and comparators, conducting design ethnographies, interviews, surveys, creating empathy maps and personas and testing low-fidelity prototypes with user.
In the Lean and Agile methodologies, the research stage may be a recurring part of the product cycle and not a separate stage.

Responsive design

A design and development technique that ensures the website or application responds automatically to screen size, hardware and orientation. The technique consists of flexible grids and layouts, resizable images and CSS media queries.



A story describing how a user or persona will use your product in-situ. It’s a method for ensuring that designs fit the user needs on site in a real world setting. See: Use case

Service design

The design of real world spaces and interactions. Planning and organizing people, spaces and infrastructures like coffee shops, hospitals, and auditoriums. Service design includes signage, workflow, interior design and other material and interaction components of a service. The goal is to improve the quality and interactions between the service provider and its customers.


A diagram of all the pages and their interconnection on a website.

Speed dating

A methodology for quickly testing the usability of a product with a roomful of people. Speed dating was created by Scott Davidoff of CMU.

Strategy stage

The planning stage with goals and milestones are decided for a project or sprint.


A visual sequence of events used to capture a user’s interactions and emotions while using a product. Similar to a User Journey but using a filmmaking metaphor.


A form used to gather feedback from users. Often used when a large number of users need to be contacted in a short period of time.

Stakeholder Interviews

Conversations with the key participants in the organization who have a stake in the outcome of the product; e.g. business owners, managers, marketing directors, sales persons, etc. To ensure that the product team understands the goals and desired outcomes of all stakeholders.


Task list

The steps a user must take in order to complete a task and achieve their goal with the product. The task list is then used to create the user flow diagram.



Is the ease of use, learnability and discoverability of a product.

Usability engineering

The formal study of usability.

Use case

A story describing how a user or persona will use your product in-situ. It’s a method for ensuring that designs fit the user needs on site in a real world setting. See: Scenario

User-centered design (UCD)

A design process that keeps the needs and desires of the user first.

User feedback loop

Testing ideas and designs with users in order to get their feedback, then using those responses to validate or refine the design. Then testing again until all user problems and pain points have been resolved.

User flow diagram

A diagram of the steps a user must take in order to complete a task and achieve their goal with the product.

User journey

The process a user takes to reach their goal, including tasks, emotions, and pain points.

User interview

Formal or informal discussions with users in order to understand their emotions, desires, goals and frustrations in the use of the product. See: Focus groups

User research

Researching goals, tasks, business competition and other areas to understand user behaviors, needs, and motivations.

Usability test

Stepping a user through a set of tasks using the product in order to understand where there is confusion, frustration or blocks.



Testing a design with users to ensure that assumptions and design directions were correct.

Visual design

Also called graphic design or UI design. Concerned with colors, typography, style and branding of the product.



The ways in which people orient themselves in physical and digital space and navigate from place to place. A component of information architecture.

Waterfall development

A strictly sequential product development process where progress flows in one direction through design > development > QA > launch > maintenance.


A blueprint for the layout and functions of a website or application. The wireframe is delivered to engineers who build the application based on these specifications.

Workflow diagram

A diagram of the steps a user must take in order to complete a task and achieve their goal with the product. See: User flow