What's your process before starting a project?

3 months ago from , Senior Interaction Designer at BBC Worldwide

Hi all. I'm intrigued to hear about your processes before you start a project. I'm sure this has probably been discussed before, but after searching on DN, I couldn't find anything with much detail. I'm talking about preprocesses, before you've even started to think about opening your design apps! I'm also intrigued to hear about post strategies too (user testing etc).

This insightful post from Jan Losert about a redesign is a good example: https://medium.com/sketch-app-sources/26-steps-of-product-dashboard-design-c97af84c4146#.feisrohhx

I'm intrigued to hear about your personal strategies and schedules.

Thanks!

22 comments

  • Andu PotoracAndu Potorac, 1 month ago

    This is such an important topic. I am not satisfied with:

    • the number of answers
    • the seriousness of some answers
    • the lack of a design process amongst peers

    So I must take this upon myself and provide some guidance. To be continued.

    0 points
  • Val SopiVal Sopi, 1 month ago

    A great question, that is usually overlooked.

    It definitely depends on the project/client, but all of us have a set "method to our madness".

    1. The way I end each client meeting is by making sure that I've gotten enough information without being inundated (I jot notes down on https://vavingo.com)
    2. I come back to the office and write down any quick inspirational thoughts (sometimes illogical, random)
    3. I let it sleep for at least a day / see which thoughts from the previous day stick & makes sense
    4. Research client's industry (business wise)
    5. Research creative directions in the industry / maybe make a mood-board / try to emulate an idea / look for styles/directions
    6. Write/Sketch/Think ideas
    7. Do the actual work (draw, photoshop, illus)
    8. Let it sleep again
    9. Finish up and select one direction to present
    10. Present to client
    11. Finalize based on feedback
    12. Send/Email/Message to client (usually no presentation on premise)
    13. Deliver the final version

    Earlier in my career I would tend to talk way to much in the kick-off meeting about possible outcomes, right there and then. I don't do that anymore, because you can't possibly know (not yet) what needs to get done & you don't have to show that you're capable (the reason I would babble in the early days). The client has picked you already (considering the project is a go).

    0 points
    • Ed Fairman, 1 month ago

      Indeed, I agree with you about different tools to achieve the output - whichever works for you to get the job done. The design treatment stage has now become the afterthought, and the planning, conceptualising, prototyping taking front of stage. It's good to see design adapting and becoming more about our users goals, too.

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  • Jesse HeadJesse Head, 1 month ago

    It varies. The most important thing for me though is defining constraints. Platform constraints; user constraints; business constraints... etc.

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  • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, 1 month ago

    Depends on the project.

    I've worked on everything from simple business-card websites, to webshops, to e-commerce platforms running a multitude of shops, to management apps, to data-exchange software...

    The basics though include a ton of talking to your client and possibly the target audience, to really get to understand the product/service and the problems it solves. That way you can address those with the features you build in the software or the message you try to put across with your site.

    As soon as you've got all the information: SIT ON IT FOR A WHILE.

    John Cleese said this once in a talk; you need TIME for creativity.

    So spend time with the issue. Don't even force it. Just think about it a bit, don't think about it a bit, then think about it some more. Write notes. Draw silly boxes in the shape of interfaces.

    Sit on it some more.

    Then use whatever tools that fit the (scale of the) project to mock up your design or prototype. Find the proper tools to build it too. Then decide whether it requires designs to be done separately, or if you can build it outright yourself. Or perhaps you want your developers to build it off of some loose sketches, and apply some design sauce afterwards.

    There's many a road that leads to Rome!

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    • Ed FairmanEd Fairman, 1 month ago

      For sure, the scheduling and planning depends on the project, and time is certainly a factor in stirring creativity / inspiration. The ideation stage is really important, especially getting the foundations secure before you build. Taking on a redesign for example, you need to truly understand the business / user goals.

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  • Hypno BuddhaHypno Buddha, 1 month ago

    I'm a product developer / conceptual designer / serial entrepreneur, so my process may be alien to the readers here.

    After getting an idea for a project, I usually do... absolutely nothing. I let it sit for awhile. If the idea hasn't dissipated into the ether after a day or two, I'll search (the internet, meatspace) to see what's already out there.

    Example: Summon the Warrior. I thought "For sure someone must have already combined self-hypnosis with warriors of the ages. That's like peanut butter and chocolate!" To my surprise, it was not.

    Provided the idea hasn't been done to death, I secure a domain name. Mostly .com, but occasionally I'll opt for a different domain suffix (like Replayz, my game for breaking bad habits).

    Then, research. Research is dangerous because - in an attempt to grasp the width and depth of a subject - it often leads into deep rabbit holes of complexity. For this reason I stay away from Wikipedia and read a few books on the subject instead.

    The biggest challenge for me is managing the time and money bandwidth. How can I learn what I need to fast enough? Do I have enough money to see this idea to completion?

    Example: Is it Taxed is a search engine for sales tax in Canada. For such a simple solution in mind, the problem was enormous and complex. It cost more time and money than I anticipated.

    As for validating an idea with surveys, user personas, etc - I don't. If the idea is strong enough and it solves an existing problem, I'll prototype it, test with friends and maybe soft-launch it as an MVP.

    My home page has some projects I've done. Several ideas are in various phases of development (they are not on my home page). Many more have been abandoned and will never see the light of day.

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    • Ed Fairman, 1 month ago

      Nice to see a different tactic in another role. It's the same with tools, to each their own and whatever and whichever works for you to get the job done! Thanks.

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  • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, 1 month ago

    My process:

    1. Gather as much information as possible about the market, users, competition, existing products etc. and simply become an expert on this field "over night". I use my app Memex for this.
    2. Write specification outline using Paper (similar to this thing) and bullet list (compile in my head)
    3. Design some rough mockups in Keynote
    4. Prototype using Framer or Xcode
    5. Sketch it
    6. Implement it

    Re-iterate steps 3. and 4. until happy.

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    • Ed Fairman, 1 month ago

      Cool, thanks for the insight! I'll have to look into Paper, not used it before myself. Nice app by the way :)

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  • Artur Jouk, 1 month ago

    Even though I used to read a lot about processes, until now the projects I was taking on were a mess. So I decide that from now on I will follow this process that I put together using what I thought was the most necessary, fast and productive.

    1. Discovery a. Collect information (questionnaire for the client) b. Define problem(s) c. Set up goals d. Define Personas

    2. User experience a. Storyframe (https://uxdesign.cc/what-is-storyframing-21cd12dfe701#.910k0baqz) b. Sitemap c. Wireframes d. Test Wireframes solutions

    3. Design a. UI Design b. Motion UI

    4. Handoff a. Style Guide b. Clickable Prototype (Invision) c. Assets (Invision) d. Specs

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    • Ed Fairman, 1 month ago

      It's interesting to see what techniques designers user in the early development stages. Story-framing certainly sounds beneficial. Cheers!

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  • Jaime AscanioJaime Ascanio, 1 month ago

    From idea to product https://jobandtalent.design/from-idea-to-product-designing-jobandtalent-89b5a6e40de9#.1o6awg1c4

    0 points
  • Bevan StephensBevan Stephens, 1 month ago

    Others have mentioned research and discovery but I would consider that to be the first thing I do after starting a project not before it.

    And opening up sketch is generally one of the very last steps in a project.

    0 points
  • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, 1 month ago

    Process is this:

    1. Sign Contract
    2. Get money (most important step)
    3. Do work
    4. Get remaining money (second most important step)
    -1 points