Workflow

How I approach design projects

The goals of my design process* include creating the best possible experience for the user while meeting KPIs and project timelines. My workflow below overviews how I’ve been able to accomplish that, often exceeding our business objectives.

This process is not done in a silo — I engage with my product manager(s), engineering leads, design colleagues, and stakeholders constantly.

Plan

North Star, flag in the sand, product vision — whatever you want to call it, this phase is crucial not just to define the problem or success metrics, but also to ensure alignment and establish a point of reference so we don’t lose sight of the end goal as the project goes on.

Interviewing stakeholders
Defining the problem and goals
Evaluating the existing product
Acquiring and analyzing data

Discover

A successful project pretty much requires that we thoroughly understand our users’ pain points, wants, and needs. The more my team and I can learn about our users, the better equipped we are to design an experience that those users will want to use and come back to.

Analyzing competitors
Observing current users
Conducting user interviews
Launching surveys

Empathize

In this phase, my goal is to build on what I learned in the previous phase and shift my focus from what our users are thinking to why they’re thinking it. This is probably where I’d add a picture of myself looking inquisitive in front of a wall full of Post-it notes.

To keep myself from jumping into sketches too soon, I’ve added a step where I sync up with my product manager(s) and answer a few questions about the project as a whole. And there’s more than one benefit to writing this down — it often comes in handy later when presenting to stakeholders!

What is the user’s end goal?

Why is this important to the business?

What’s the ideal UX outcome?

Is there a simpler solution?

Developing user personas
Journey mapping
Writing user stories
Storyboarding
Card-sorting
Affinity-mapping
Building information architecture

Design

In addition to the broader business/project goals, when I design, I keep the following five goals in mind:

Simple, intuitive user interface

Clear hierarchy of information

Contextual, dynamic content

Low cognitive load

Able to be used by people with disabilities

These days, our design and prototyping tools are so powerful that it’s crucial to use them to their full potential (e.g., correctly setting up components, taking advantage of variants, etc.) — not only to reduce unnecessary time spent in this phase, but also to create functional prototypes that show the full intent of the design.

Brainstorming
Creating user flows
Sketching
Wireframing
Prototyping
Iterative designing

Enhance

This phase is the most flexible, but I definitely make sure to do all of these steps before development starts. Sometimes the steps overlap, and more often than not, I revisit some of them at least once.

It’s important here to recognize the difference between fine-tuning vs. just tinkering. I have a few methods in play for how I make that call, but often it boils down to having confidence in myself and trusting my experience (and the research!).

Gathering feedback
User testing
Refining designs
Creating animations
Writing acceptance criteria
Grooming
Reviewing developed UI

Learn

The process isn’t done once I hand off the assets to development — we can still learn from the data (and, ideally, refine)! Similarly, I’ve learned so much just from keeping an open mind and listening to others — whether it be workshops, getting feedback from my manager, or just talking with peers.

Always learn, always improve.

A/B testing
Learning from analytics
Sharing findings with the team

* Note: This is not a linear process or even a checklist of sorts — it’s simply an overview of my experience and the way I’ve historically approached many of my projects. This process also assumes the company already has a design system in place, as that is a major design/branding initiative that I consider to be out of the scope of a standard UX project.