After over ten years of working in the design industry, I've learned a lot from trial and error, working with amazing teams, and creating great processes. Design is all about the process and, honestly, its never complete. Iteration is everything!
Thoughtful strategy is important to begin with because it articulates the brand, guiding principles, and long-term vision of a business. The initial strategy of a project will shape the goals of the project—what the business is hoping to achieve with the project, key performance indicators, and what priority it should have in the grand scheme of things.
Also known as the discovery phase, the research phase is probably the most variable between projects. Complex projects will require significant user and competitor research activities, while small startup websites may skip all research activities other than some informal interviews and a survey. The research phase is key to creating an informed user experience.
The goal of the analysis phase is to draw insights from data collected during the research phase. Capturing, organizing and making inferences from the “what” can help us begin to understand the “why”. Communicating our understanding back to end-users helps to validate assumptions.
The design phase of a project is collaborative (involving input and ideas from different people) and iterative (meaning that it cycles back to validate ideas and assumptions). Building on the user feedback loop established in previous phases, the premise of the design phase is to put ideas in front of users, get their feedback, refine them, and repeat. These ideas can be represented by paper prototypes, interactive wireframes, or semi-functioning prototypes, all deliberately created in low-fidelity to delay any conversation relating to graphic identity, branding or visual details.
The production phase is where the high-fidelity design is fleshed out, content and digital assets are created, and a high-fidelity version of the product is validated with stakeholders and end-users through user testing sessions. My role shifts from creating and validating ideas to collaborating with developers to guide and champion the vision.