If you’re going to love something it needs to be the process of coming up with a solution. If you’re going to love two things, the other one should be that you’ve actually solved the problem. If you’re going to love three things, love the people you’re trying to help.
— Mike Monteiro
Before I begin 'doing' anything, I outline my goals and break down the project into general steps. Then I plan out my process; taking into consideration time, resources, and scope.
Next: Research. The people who will be using the product, the competition, other designers, tutorials, anything and everything. I want to learn as much as I can about the brief.
At this stage I define my context & design problem; potentially creating design artifacts to help me empathize and understand the target users.
Research and thoughts become mind maps & brainstorms. Ideas are scribbled down and sketches are small and drawn in rapid successions.
Concepts are reviewed, evaluated, & tossed. A few rough gems of concepts are selected as the seed for further ideation until a final concept is chosen.
The chosen concept is executed and polished with the appropriate tool(s), be it photoshop, code, or pen and paper; the idea dictates the strategy and tools.
Design is never finished; it merely becomes good enough to solicit feedback. Sharing, critiques, and user testing provide feedback that is used to fuel ongoing design iterations.