Working Smarter: My Design Process for New Projects
My only resolution for this year is simplifying my life and focusing on happiness. Because work is taking a huge chunk of my time every day, I took a look at my recent projects and thought what I can improve. I’m pretty happy with how the things were running, but I found some pain points that I wanted to improve on. Also, I am aiming to systematize as much of boring stuff as I can and focus on design. Here are a couple of ideas that I want to try for new projects.
Ideas and limitations
There are only three hard limitations to my new process.
- Rule #1: no fixed price projects. They’re stressful for both parties. Only daily rate projects from now on. Estimated budgets are good, but nothing fixed.
- Rule #2: one project at a time. No two days here, three days there. Full focus on delivering amazing results in one project.
- Rule #3: no more than 32 hours a week. I need space to breathe and work on Lifetramp and my own things.
Every new project will get a Slack chat, so it’s easy to keep in touch and share work in progress as we go.
Every new project will get a Dropbox folder with predefined structure:
- Paperwork. Signed contract and other things that need to be there, e.g. NDAs.
- Research. All the deliverables produced in the research phase, e.g. moodboards, inspiration.
- In progress. Sketches, mockups, animations and everything else in progress.
- Delivered. Final, approved deliverables get moved here. I’ve been thinking about incorporating a tool likeLayerVault for the “In progress” phase, but will have to look more into that.
Only two things going on at the same time, to ensure focus. No rocket science. I’m moving away from Trello in favour of Blossom, because I feel tools like work in progress limits and blocked states give me better control over the process and ability to catch things going awry early. Blossom also gives me statistics about the time between “Ready” and “Approved” and that helps optimize and estimate for the future. Columns for Blossom board will look as follows (work in progress limits in brackets):
- Doing (2)
- Feedback / Review
- Needs revision
Tasks in “Ready” will be prioritized visually from most important to least important. Only two things going on at the same time, to ensure focus. No rocket science.
Initial design sprint
The point of the intial design sprint is to get early things like research and moodboards out of the way in a structured manner. With these out of the way, I will be going into standard Design > Review > Ship iteration mode.
- Day 1: Research. I will look into all the data I can get my hands on to inform my process. This includes current users, customer personas, potential customers, competition and so on.
- Day 2: Collect. This is about gathering materials and inspiration. Entire day spent on coming up with everything that can create a basic style guide. At the end of the day, a short review discussion should happen to make sure we’re on the same page.
- Day 3: Design. Interactions, sketches, ideas for screens and/or pages, uploaded to a tool that lets stakeholders review and comment inline, like InvisionApp.
- Day 4: Ship & revise. This is where a longer meeting, a Skype call or a Hangout happens again. Ideally, there will already be something tangible ready for developers to work on already.
And that’s a wrap. What do you think about the process? Do you use a predefined process while working with projects?