A look into how I work
Easily the most important, most involved, step. Simply put, this is learning everything I possibly can about the company. Who the users are, brand perception, competition, company goals, etc. This step also includes getting all (or most) of the necessary content (copy, site architecture, imagery, etc.) and going through some initial design inspiration.
I've always believed in front-loading my design process so I spend the most time here. I do my best work when I'm able to pull from a large pool of information I've gathered about a particular company. I love being in the early conversations with clients when they're forced to think and talk about their brand in a slightly different way. If I'm not able to meet with the client, I came up with this handy Design Discovery questionnaire that guides the client through a series of similar questions. I just give the client the platform and listen.
Pen to Paper
Once I finish gathering the information I need, I immediately start itching for a pen and a notebook to start sketching out ideas. Figuring out what pieces of the site that can be reusable, what types of page designs or interactions we're going to need and how to create consistency across platforms are all at the top of my list.
It's around this time that if I'm not writing the code, an engineer needs to come into the picture. They can usually help with the feasibility of interactions I might have in mind.
If I am the one who is writing the code, I'll move into something like CodePen to build out interesting layouts or animations to show the client. (check out my CodePen profile)
This is the step when things start coming together. My sketches are validated and the colors, type and other elements start taking shape
Colors, type, graphics. For established brands, this part is easy enough. But a lot of times, the companies I work with are in the middle of refreshing their brand in some way so I generally have some leeway here. This is where the client gets the most involved because they can see their brand really taking shape. It's also when they'll have the most feedback. So being able to take that feedback and implement it into a design is imperative to the final product.