I follow a user-centric design approach, by keeping your business goals and objectives in alignment with the needs and expectations of your users.
I always try to work as closely as possible with my clients and teams, going through rapid cycles of research, design, feedback, refinement, and validation throughout the project. This means that there is a less long-term risk to the end product and the delivery, and also helps to make the whole experience much more enjoyable for all involved. The significant outcome of this process is a useful, usable, and successful experience for your users, but just as importantly a return on investment for your business. I have listed and sketched out the processes below to highlight the thinking and issues that can arise.
1) Inform and Define: Requirements Gathering
Meeting with the client to discuss the brief and documenting all requirements to visualise the project, expectations, scope, and budget and to define exactly what the project benchmarks are. Establishing goals and priorities with the client at this stage is essential.
2) Collaborate: Research
Competition in the marketplace, understanding what technologies are available, testing existing products using surveys, screenshot surveys, day-in-life studies, card sorting, videos of usability tests, workshop sessions, user journeys, user experiences, and expectations, creating user personas and studying outputs from ethnographic research.
3) Design: Concept design
Using Pen and paper for quick results or understanding, Sketch & InVision, Axure, or the Adobe Suite for low, mid or high fidelity wireframes, interactive prototypes, service design or to demonstrate personas, storyboarding, user journey maps, business flows and process, information hierarchies and anything else that may provide both the business (client) and the end-users with the visuals they need to ensure value in the solution.
4) Validate: Testing
At this stage it is important not to assume that what you are creating is in fact going to work to get you to the end goal. I advise on testing the conceptual design or any proposed solution, using internal focus groups, usability testing of concepts, user interviews, day in the life diaries, user focus groups, user task scenarios, surveys, and remote video workshops.
4.1) Repeat stages 3 and possibly 2 depending on feedback from testing/validation
5) Delivery: Detailed design and specification
Depending on the scope of the project and my involvement in delivering the final product myself or working with developers there are a variety of methods for delivering the detailed design and specification. I use the following: UI mock-ups, user flow mock-ups, storyboarding, information hierarchies/site maps, mock-ups, paper prototypes, animation mock-ups, video sketches, and wireframes.