The no-nonsense design process I follow

So quite recently I was asked a question on Quora about what my personal process is when I’m designing mobile interfaces, and having published a recent work related to a concept vaccine education app named Gabriel, whose goal is to not only remind parents about the next vaccine date, but also educate them about what exactly are they going to vaccinate their child for, I thought I could share the process I used for Gabriel with others.

Here it goes.

  1. Identifying the problem I wanted to work for:

I saw a segment by comedian John Oliver on Vaccines where he addressed a critical issue of parents being reluctant to vaccinate their children due to lack of information about what exactly are they doing to their child despite the proven fact of how beneficial vaccines are.

The problem I believe is that most websites or apps that are in the healthcare domain are ridiculously dull from the visual perspective and intimidating from the semantic perspective. Just go through CDC’s link about the polio vaccine:

Polio Vaccination | What You Need to Know | CDC

The above link is useful, but it gives out a lot of information. Could it be reduced to information that is sufficient to absorb in a few lines? Also, the website looks like any other clinic, dull, boring and intimidating with lot of text. It doesn’t have to be that way.

My starting point was solving this. Removing any thoughts about it being groundbreaking or revolutionary was probably the most challenging of all, and frankly that’s too much pressure to handle.

2) Boiling down to the essentials:

One challenge that we as designers need to solve is to remove what is unnecessary. It is exciting to think and imagine all possible things our user can do from our product, but before we do that, we need to answer these questions:

Could we throw in a ton of features that the user probably won’t even use?Absolutely.

But is that necessary? Absolutely not.

For Gabriel, my essential feature was allow the user to set a reminder as per the vaccine schedule, and allow them to educate themselves about the upcoming vaccine. Period.

No social media gimmick, no store / credits to unlock new content, no customisable theme (the last one kinda hurt, but tough love)

3) Sketching out the user flow:

I didn’t want my users going through 15 steps before they finally sign up or click 7 links before they reach the information they need. My goal was to take the user Home any time they want without having to backtrack through a tonne of other screens. Here’s what I made:

4. Designing the actual interface (Graphics, colours and all the other finer details):

One thing I tell others who have just started out in their design journey is to take their own time when finding graphics (either free or premium) and picking the right colour scheme. If you are making it for an established brand with a fixed colour palette, STICK TO IT. If not, pick what goes about with the overall theme and feel of the product that you are designing.

For Gabriel, I chose the palette: Don’t Call Me Baby (ironic)

But for colours, I would hands down recommend two of my favourite sites

For graphics, the Internet is filled with resources. Some of my favourites are:

5. Building a prototype:

This is an optional stage but a big plus if you do it. Clients and other designers and users love to see how the design would flow and how you visualised it. Either you do it with online tools like InVision or http://Proto.io or with offline tools like Principle for Mac, Flinto or even After Effects, if you do a great job in bringing life to your designs, you are on the right track.

6. Presenting your design:

I guess the second most difficult thing you might come across in your design process is presentation. Just like any in-person presentation is enough to give you cold feet, visually presenting your design is something that gives me the cold feet.

I’ll tell you what I do to get over this, and that is PRACTICE.

Check out great presentations by other artists on Behance or Dribbble and you can either emulate them or take tips and use it for yourself. But, once you are done with designing your interface, it is time to tell a story on how you did it and what did you do.

Here’s the presentation of Gabriel which I am really proud of:

Gabriel: Vaccination concept app

7. Kickback, relax, then getting back:

I know how stressful and exhausting a project can be. Once you are done with it, share it to the world. Kick your feet up, and bask in the glory you might receive, because you deserve it. But once its done, get back to work. Don’t settle, explore other areas or challenges you want to improve or solve and its back to business.

What’s your process like? How can I improve my process? I would love to know your answers. Till then…

Cheers!