A UX Design Process with ADDIE

First published by : July 2017

ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) is a dynamic, non-linear, and evaluative instructional design cycle closely related to how we learn and how we think. ADDIE considers our end-users' performance and not only their tasks, which fits the needs of user experience (UX) design well. Our digital marketing will benefit too!

ADDIE focusses and strengthens your, "create, test, and learn" cycles.

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What is ADDIE?

ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) is just one design processes perhaps based on similar work to Herbert Simon's 1969 decision making model and other works traceable back to John Dewy. You may be familiar with some of them?

Alternative "UX" processes
  • The "UX Design Process" Research, Insights, Design Concepts, Test Prototypes, Develop
  • "Design Thinking" of Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test?
  • Eric Ries's Build - Measure - Learn  and Think - Make - Check "UX cycles".
  • The 6Ds in the Discover, Define, Design, Develop, Deploy and Drive "UX process".

I find ADDIE the most comfortable to apply methodology and process across a range of situations and the easiest to share with our team. It fits so easily with each of the above processes. It does not conflict with them and actively enhances each to ensure their successful application.

ADDIE emphasises the cyclic formative evaluation through the reflection of each stage of the process. It is also flexibile in application. As a process of iterative and continual improvement rather than a linear model of progression, it fits Agile Scrum and (UK) Government Digital Standards (GDS) methodologies well.

The process label aside, designers facilitate the engineering and development a product needs to be accessible, usable, learnable, and useful. We are our users' advocate and their champion toward a delightful UX. The process must begin with our users... although our enterprise should learn what its goals are too!

A process

ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) follows a familiar cognitive and cyclic process model.

Research is essential to the ADDIE process and is far more efficient than you might believe. Research is reusable across related design cycles. Perhaps we should refer to (R)ADDIE?

Each stage of the process is a cycle or eddy that inter-relates to or disrupts other stages in the process.

The ADDIE process related to Agile software development
My Research, Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate product design process

Analysis should be one of our greatest efforts. Scrimp here, and quality will suffer.


Analysis ☝





Close The Accordions

How ADDIE fits UX

The (R)ADDIE design cycle’s emphasis and priority on Research and importantly on Analysis supports our ambition to deliver delightful experiences.

The ADDIE processes' cyclic nature steers a design beyond what our users expect. It doesn’t only fix a "flag in the sand" to aim for but constantly re-targets exactly where that flag should be. Our design can flex and evolve intelligently toward offering our users:

  • Ease of effort.
  • Context to their tasks.
  • Give results or feedback.

Research alone cannot improve design. The greater our analysis the better our design for Ease, Context, and Results.

ADDIE's emphasis on analysis lends to our team's innovation and a delightful experience
Without a process such as ADDIE, we cannot elevate our users' experience to the desired levels of delight

Note: the Ease, Context, and Results mantra cross-maps reasonably well to Dana Chisnell's, "The Three Levels of Happy Design" (Pleasure, Flow, Meaning), which Jared Spool terms, "3 Approaches to Delight".

Considering the user journey

At each stage of the ADDIE process, I ground the work to the basic user journey and the enterprise's values, aims, and objectives. As its name suggests, this is a basic and easy to apply tool: not a deliverable such as a Journey Map or Customer Experience Map, etc.

The basic user journey
At each stage of the ADDIE process I consider the user journey: Needs, Tasks, Input, Output, and Review the implications
The Basic User Journey Stages
Journey Stage Concept
Wants Wants give context to the user journey and enterprise aims. What our user and our enterprise want may not match what is needed.
Needs Needs may indicate requirements, or preconditions that must be met to complete the journey.
Tasks Tasks are discrete objectives formed from needs, against which success may be measured on completion of the journey.
Input What our user and enterprise must actively do or to provide to achieve tasks set during the journey.
Output The result of performing  tasks such as knowledge acquisition, product orders being processed, or giving feedback on journey progress, etc.
Review An overview of the status of a task or journey, of any further activity required or set in motion; perhaps an event history or time-line with which to track task or process progress, etc.
Recycle There may be two or more phases: first, that our user and enterprise may access and repeat the journey or tasks as necessary, and second to review the success of each task or journey with a view to identifying improvements that can be made.

Note: See an application of the Basic User Journey that enabled an 'eleventh hour' rapid understanding of, and design update of a failing UI.

Evaluating, conflict, and change

Conflict should inform our evaluative design process although it may also harm it.

Conflict in teams shouldn't be 'bloody'. Without care, conflict can damage relationships, erode trust, and ultimately cost the product and enterprise. Yet, without conflict and honest exchanges of opinions and data in an open environment, the design may conclude in consensus built on compromises, fear, and even misguided respect.

Designers particularly must be free to conflict with one another and with the team. Such conflict needs managing, of course and steering clear of personal and discriminatory attacks. Sure, there may be emotional wounds and we must learn from them and return reinvigorated by lunchtime, or at the latest by breakfast.

A 100% UX conflict

In a 100% UX team, conflict will be valued and respected. Research will be commissioned and evidence sought to seek the best outcomes. Learning will be shared in the spirit intended.

An effective team will grow stronger and more adaptable over time. Teams run by ids may suffer permanent damage.

Designers and titans chickens

Designers will almost always conflict between themselves over something or other. At times the conflict will be so trivial you want to bash their heads together—and only in a metaphorical way, of course! You may also see cataclysmic exchanges including salvoes of id. As long as it is not only the loudest voice or largest ego that wins, there is no personality or "pecking order" clashing, and the outcome is positive to the enterprise, then there is no reason it cannot be encouraged.

Designers know that conflict is healthy. And they should know when it is not.

Team managers need to be aware that conflict generally has a cause—and right or wrong, that cause may feed vital insight into a design. Just don't leave two or more designers on their own for too long.

They're [designers] you dolt. Apart from you, they're the most stupid creatures on this planet. They don't plot, they don't scheme, and they are NOT ORGANISED!

Melisha Tweedy, Product Manager.

On free speech

...Restricting speech leads to restricting ideas and therefore restricted innovation—the most successful societies have generally been the most open ones. Usually mainstream ideas are right and heterodox ideas are wrong, but the true and unpopular ideas are what drive the world forward...

...You can't tell which seemingly wacky ideas are going to turn out to be right, and nearly all ideas that turn out to be great breakthroughs start out sounding like terrible ideas... When we move from strenuous debate about ideas to casting the people behind the ideas as heretics, we gradually stop debate on all controversial ideas.

Dan Altman blog, E Pur Si Muove, December 14, 2017 (indicated by Chip Cutter writing on LinkedIn Pulse).


There's no one-size-fits-all design process. ADDIE is simply one of my tools of choice . Each designer and enterprise will follow what works for them. It is only essential that whatever the analysis is, that it is thorough and not overly compromised by low resources, poor appetite, voluminous voices, or inflated id.

When encouraged, open, and transparent conflict can have a positive impact on design. Conflict resolution must be evidence based and not a compromise that bleeds into our product.

Chickens Designers may need careful observation?

It's the thought that counts?
Meme: It's not a bug - it's a feature

❮ Portfolio UX Workflow ❯

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