My Design Process
Through the years I've learned that creating great user experiences and well executed designs is more important than following a strict process. Though this may change from project to project, here is the process I currently use as a guideline.
UNDERSTAND THE PROJECT OR FEATURE
A great way to kick off a project or a feature is to meet with the Product Owner, Lead Designer, and a Developer to define the core goals and the needs for the project or feature. This can include a document created by the Product Owner, Lead Designer, or UX Designer. Projects or features can get kicked back for revisions or changed completely based on feedback.
This discussion usually includes data, analytics, and user research if available, that explain the need for the project or feature.
SKETCHES & WHITEBOARDING
I create rough sketches on a whiteboard, paper, or post-it notes to establish a visual reference. This helps stakeholders to have a better understanding of the visual design and helps identify similar references. I usually continue sketching and whiteboarding throughout the entire project or feature while brainstorming and discussing ideas.
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS & RESEARCH
Based on the project or feature, I research examples in other apps, the mobile and web space, and the real world. This helps me identify best practices, strengths and weaknesses, or anything similar to how users might expect the design to function. Example: If I’m creating a map for a game, take cues (if possible) from Google maps since most consumers already understand how it functions and could reduce the players cognitive load.
Depending on how large the project or feature, I usually create a bullet list of the UX flow. This gives me a quick idea of how it will function. Once I have something that meets all the criteria, I run it by the Product Owner, Lead Designer, or Developer for feedback.
If the feature or project is more complex and has multiple edge cases, I create flow charts to make sure all problem areas have been accounted for. This also provides an overview of how much work might be involved before commit to anything.
Once I’ve sketched/white-boarded some concepts and established a flow, I create black and white wireframes in Illustrator to establish a concrete idea of how the feature or project could look and function. There’s usually multiple versions of iteration at this point in development.
INVISION & DEVELOPER PROTOTYPES
Once I’ve completed the wireframes and flows, I create prototypes in InVision so that myself, the team, and users can test out the feature or project and collect feedback for iteration. This is a great way to find usability issues and validate design decisions. Depending on how large and agile the team is, another great way of creating a prototype is to slice up the wireframes and have a developer drop them into a similar existing project or feature and have the team test it. There’s usually a couple versions of iteration at this point in development.
CREATING FINAL ART & DEVELOPMENT
Once the prototype is feeling great and has been approved by the Product Owner, Lead Designer, and Developer, I discuss it with the UI artist (unless I’m also creating the final art) and the development team. It's important to be in communication with the developers, answering any questions they may have, and reviewing their work to make sure that it's implemented as designed.
USER TESTS & A-B TESTS
Based on the type of project or feature, and how much time the team has for development, it's good to start user tests and/or focus tests during or immediately after deployment. This is especially important when creating a first time user experience. Collecting real-time user feedback while they interact with the project provides valuable information on the success of the design.
Once the project or feature is live, it’s good to set up A-B Tests on a small group of users to validate design decisions regarding balance, fine tuning, and monetization. Based on the data and analytics, there may be some iteration needed.