"When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." - R. Buckminster Fuller

Process

(I find myself constantly adjusting this page. It's actually quite hard to put something up that is supposed to be pretty much set in stone, when in reality it's much more fluid. What I have up is really just a general structure of the actual process, since every step in that process will inevitably vary with the landscape of each individual project. It's like cooking: you may start with a recipe, but depending on the number of guests and their personal tastes, and a variety of other factors, you adjust accordingly. And talking about the process without considering context is like being asked to cook a meal for an unknown set of strangers. You can only hope they like what you've served. Enjoy?)

Everything is designed. That's a fact many people tend to forget, and it's certainly easy to, with the amount of objects we interact with on a daily basis, from toothbrushes to coffee mugs and everything in between. In the course of a day, we interact with an overwhelming amount of objects. Now imagine that every item you used today added even one extra second of complexity to your day; how much time would you have wasted, and how much aggregated frustration would you feel at the end of your day?

Thankfully, most common items, like the aforementioned toothbrush and mug, get used without too much scrutiny or thought, because if you had a problem with either — your toothbrush was the size of a hairbrush, or the handle on your mug burned your hand — surely you would have replaced them with another brand/design that worked better for you. And yet in the world of software/web technologies, a lot of companies still don't think of design in any functional capacity, or see design as a area worthy of the same time and resources usually given without question to other aspects of a product's developmental cycle. Is this a sign of the relative youth of the industry? I believe so, and I also believe that it's bound to change. As selective pressure gets more and more intense, it will become quite clear that good design is a strong competitive advantage.

My process for developing the user experience is pretty fluid, but typically some variation of the following:

Discovery Design Development Evaluation Deployment Wrap-Up
Requirements Gathering Information Architecture Prototyping Heuristic Reviews Graphics Refinement Style Guide Creation
Product/Service Analysis Storyboarding / Flow Diagrams Scripting User Reviews UI Refinement Help Docs Creation
Task Analysis Interaction Design Graphics Creation Usability Testing    
Personas Creation Wireframes Style Definition      
Competitive Analysis Visual Design        
Corporate UI Standards          

With this roadmap, each step in the process is considered; the result of which is a carefully contemplated user experience that will engage the audience, facillitate user goal achievement, and ultimately ensure a successful product release.