How I do
You’ve probably heard the Abraham Lincoln quote: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Well, that’s me. I’m a big fan of pre-production - I like the feeling of being prepared and organised, of having as much information as possible when I get started on a project. The better informed I am, the better informed my design choices will be. This is not to say that I can’t improvise if needed, but it’s not my preferred way of working.
For me, this part of the process includes all the preliminary research - stakeholder interviews, project details, user research, journey mapping, site-mapping, etc. I’m a pretty hands-on person, so once I’ve done the research, I sketch first. On paper. I doodle, I draw. I use pencils, pens and markers. I pour my ideas onto the pages before translating them to the screen.
Once I’ve gathered all of the information needed, talked about it, thought about it and sketched out some rough ideas, I’ve got a pretty clear image in my head of what the design will look like. The rough sketches are cleaned up using Sketch, Figma, Illustrator, Photoshop, whatever’s necessary to flesh them out. I’m a very detail-oriented person so sticking to bare wireframes can be a bit of a challenge sometimes, but part of my learning process is focusing on the functionalities and usability at least as much as I do on the visual aspects.
Wireframes turn into paper and/or digital prototypes that need to be user-tested and discussed. I love discussing designs - exploring possibilities, coming across solutions I hadn’t thought of yet, hearing different perspectives and giving and receiving feedback on the work. Seeing the wireframes come to life in the shape of mockups feels very rewarding - this is where all the hard prep work pays off. Of course, there will still be discussion and user-test rounds, but it’s finally starting to look like a real product.
Sometimes a project requires follow-up by implementing the designs, testing the implementation, and going through one or more rounds of design changes. This is also the part of the project where you can see the thought and care put into functionalities such as micro-animations come to fruition.
Clear and cordial communication with the client is paramount throughout the project but also afterwards. If the client has any remaining questions or concerns, making sure they are heard and answered should always be part of project after-care.