It always pleases me to hear when technical-minded folks put a lot of effort into optimizing the user experience. First of all, I don’t believe there’s a one-fit all design process. If you’re achieving good results with your current process, you should trust it. That doesn’t mean you can’t optimize it.
Let me share my 4 core principles:
- Discovery: understand the key problem you’re trying to solve. What’s the goal of the project and what are we trying to achieve? Who’s the audience and competition? How does a successful outcome look like? I do this through interviews and (desktop) research.
- Ideation: brainstorm lots of ideas, bad ones included. It’s important to explore different solutions. I typically break this process up in a couple of days, so it brings fresh ideas. Next, narrow it down and come up with a direction, the solution you think that the actual problem would solve.
- Validation: take the rough idea you have and try to validate it. Present the work to a client, a (potential) customer. The goal is to get real feedback. See how they feel about your solution so you can improve the solution.
- Refine and Improve: Make the design better, finalize. Repeat the process if necessary until you feel the results really solve the problem.
Design is never finished. Once it’s out there you’ll soon have a ton more information to go through this process again–to refine and optimize.