Being a creative has it’s up and downs. Many designers, artists, and makers love to create freely with no rules. It’s not always the best use of time. If you’re like me, you want to make the best use of your time. If you’re painting a bedroom wall, go for it and paint freely. If you’re running a business and working with clients, the need for a process is a necessity.

The Importance Of A Process

You’re probably already following a process but have never sat down to ‘formalize’ it or even thought about it in a lot of detail. By picking apart how you approach things, you can create a repeatable plan for future work. This will help you improve your quality, consistency, and efficiency. You’ll also be able to analyze what does and doesn’t work for you. A good process should have repeatable steps to get you from point A to point B. Point A is the client brief and point B is the end product. The thing you make.

With a good creative process you will:

  • be more organized
  • save time
  • appear more professional

Without a good creative process:

  • projects will take longer
  • communication can be tricky
  • the client or you may become frustrated

What Is A Process?

A process is a series of steps that you take every time you create something. That’s it. The trick is to make sure your process is fluid and flexible enough to allow you creative freedom, while at the same time being able to help you when you’re struggling. A good process should allow for a balance of creativity and structure. It may be a rigid step-by-step, or something more general. There’s no right way to have a design process and you need to figure out what works best for you.

Developing Your Process

The best way to start developing your process is to think about the steps you take every time you go to make something. How are you most comfortable working? What happens when you’re in a good flow? Start general, and update your process as you go. You’ll find it becomes much easier to document.

My Creative Process

Discover

This is the who, what, why of the project and acts as my guide for the rest of the process. I create a project brief based on this info.

  • Project definition – understanding what the project is about
  • Target audience – defining and understanding website the target users/audience
  • Goals – setting up clear target goals
  • Technical specs – defining specifications such platform, special tech requirements, plugins, etc..
  • Content inventory – establishing the required content/pages that will be on the website
  • Resources – evaluating available client assets, such as fonts, images, etc…
  • Project timeline – defining project milestones and required time allotment
  • Project budget – establishing necessary costs and defining overall budget

Distill

The research and preparation in this step set the stage for the entire project. This is the foundation for the design and development work.

  • Research & Concepts – carrying out preliminary research and creating initial concepts
  • Brainstorming – brainstorming sessions
  • Information Architecture – defining website structure and content navigation
  • Page Layout – establishing the layouts for different types of pages
  • Usability – Ensuring ease of use through the proper presentation of content

Design

This is where the visual look starts to take shape.

  • Logo – creating the logo and other branding elements
  • Color Scheme – choose relevant color scheme based on client brief and research
  • Typography – choose appropriate font families/sizes/etc…
  • Wireframes & Mockups – creating initial wireframes and mockups
  • Visual Elements – designing visual elements such as buttons/forms/hover states/etc…
  • Artwork – designing artwork such as header images/sliders/etc…

Develop

The development phase converts the creative vision into reality.

  • Functionality – implementing functionality for required features
  • Content – integrate client content into the website
  • Site Performance – ensuring proper website access speed and performance
  • Security – implementing security features
  • Markup – implementing required markup for SEO/social media/etc

Deliver

The launch phase covers making final touches and moving the project to the live server. Any deliverables and documentation will also be handed off.

  • Testing – final testing of website features
  • Live server – transferring website to the live server
  • Quality Assurance – performing QA tasks such as proofreading/etc…
  • Web Analytics – integrating web analytics into the website such as Google Analytics
  • Deliverables – handing off client deliverables such as source files
  • Training & Documentation – providing website documentation and client training

Delight

Ongoing maintenance allows for optimizing existing and new design elements, features, and content.

  • Support & Troubleshooting – ensuring technical support and troubleshooting issues
  • A/B Testing – performing website optimization through A/B testing
  • Design updates – providing and implementing design updates
  • Functionality Updates – providing and implementing functionality updates
  • Content Updates – providing and implementing content updates
And there you have it. My step-by-step design process. Developing my process took months but it has made my workflow so much more efficient. So feel free, copy away and jump start your creative process.
 
What does your design process look like? Do you work better with a granular step-by-step process or a more vague approach?