My design process wasn’t invented this week, or just to make good copy for this web site. It is process that has evolved through my work with different clients and teams. Like good design, it’s not flashy or rigid; it is clean, functional, and flexible.
I use familiar tools to do radically new things, and often I use brand new tools to improve on my ability to deliver familiar needs. We can skip steps or expand the process, depending on the needs of the project and the human beings I am working with. In summary, here’s how I work:
The beginning of a project includes google searches, interviewing stakeholders and or programmers, discussing current analytics and research. Also the development of a design brief if there isn’t one already.
Even after initial meetings to discuss the project and the company I still won’t know enough to really design an effective logo or UI. That’s where a mood board or scrap pile can come in. Google searching and Wikipedia reading for keywords and images can be put together to develop good ‘landscape’ of the industry or market the company is in.
For web and UI projects I’ll go over any user data the company has with their research or UX team.
2. Brainstorming & Sketching
After getting a good frame of the company and industry it’s good to just sit and brainstorm.
My favorite way to start a branding project is to mind map (check out David Airey’s Explanation). I have gotten quite a few interesting ideas for logos and very visual designs from this technique.
Anything from weird and esoteric to simple and commonly used UI layouts can be sketched out and discussed with development to see if that might be a good path to solve any UI problems. If concepts are needed for something fresh and new, a sketch can lead to perfectly fitting ideas way before I touch any production applications.
Current tools I am using: Adobe Illustrator, Indesign & Photoshop. Sketch.app has been taking over for Photoshop for mobile and web UI production though. I use Espresso, LESS and WordPress for web production.
I try to present all my work to stakeholders and not just sent over a pdf. I discuss the visual decisions I made. It always refers back to the Research and Brainstorming phases to rationalize my work. I try to present 2-3 options or variations based upon the strongest ideas to come out of the brainstorming phase.
After web or UI feedback, I will make whatever changes are necessary for development and continue the conversation. For logo/branding work a version is usually picked and revised.
With branding, logo or identity work, I hand off vector files of different resolutions. I also create print ready work if anything needs to be printed.
Website mockups are sent over and are coded up, if it’s on WordPress I’ll start coding up the custom theme.