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!

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What is ADDIE?

ADDIE 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 the "UX Design Process" of Research, Insights, Design Concepts, Test Prototypes, Develop; or "Design Thinking" of Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test? And Eric Ries's Build - Measure - Learn  and Think - Make - Check UX cycle. Each is based on similar, if not the same reflective cognitive models as ADDIE.

I find ADDIE the most comfortable to apply across a range of situations and the easiest to share with our team. It is notable for the emphasis on cyclic formative evaluation through each stage of the process and its flexibility 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. 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 cycles'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.


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, or inflated id.

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

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