Process.

My creative process is continuous and iterative. I follow what I call the 4Ds – Discover, Design, Develop, and Deploy. Then, we optimize. I also follow Jesse James Garrett’s user-centered design principles described below.

4Ds

Another important note is that once I have a project to work on, a problem to solve, I work on it constantly, sometimes actively, and sometimes subconsciously. This dance of active and passive work consumes me until the right solution or design is found.


Discover

This is the beginning of the creative process. It’s focused on learning as much as possible about the project, client, industry, goals, users, competition, landscape, and much more. The better informed I am, the better I can serve my clients, and the better the outcome. This phase is typically done via lots of talking with clients and online research.


Design

This is the fun part, where the ideas generated in the Discovery phase come alive and abstract concepts become tangible. I like to start on paper, sketching ideas, jotting notes, rapidly exploring ideas and seeing what works. Once a clear direction is present, I move into the digital world and use the right software for the job.


Develop

Mostly relevant to websites and applications, development begins once the design is nearly complete. I hand-code all of my work, and test my code in browsers and mobile devices throughout the development process. Whenever I can, I try not to reinvent the wheel for simple solutions and am eternally grateful for the open source community.


Deploy

Deployment can mean a number of things, like delivering logo files to a client, which I prepare if various color modes, file types, in vector and raster formats, with accompanying type and color information. It can be deploying the approved website or application from a staging environment, and installing traffic analytics and webmaster tools.


Repeat

Once something has been deployed, and it makes sense to repeat this process, it starts all over again. Discovery turns inward, studying the traffic analytics, bounce rates, conversion, acquisitions, etc. Improvements are made where possible, and A/B or multivariate tests are done as necessary. Source control is used to keep track of changes.


Elements of User Experience

“Smart organizations recognize that Web design is more than just creating clean code and sharp graphics. A site that really works fulfills your strategic objectives while meeting the needs of your users. Even the best content and the most sophisticated technology won’t help you balance those goals without a cohesive, consistent user experience to support it.

But creating the user experience can seem overwhelmingly complex. With so many issues involved – usability, brand identity, information architecture, interaction design – it can seem as if the only way to build a successful site is to spend a fortune on specialists who understand all the details.”

Jesse James Garrett (jjg.net/elements)

Strategy

Sets the foundation for the website. What are your goals for the website? What do your customers want?

Scope

Transforms strategy into requirements. What features and functionailty will the website have? Be specific.

Structure

Defines what will go into the website and how users will navigate. How doesit all relate and fit together?

Skeleton

Here’s where the website gets more tangible. What elements and components will be used and where?

Surface

Time to make it look great! What will the finished website look like? What fonts and colors will be used?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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