Step 1: empathize
I approach any challenge with a proper design thinking attitude; I keep an open mind and always "get out of the building" to interact with or observe potential end-users. Combining qualitative research with quantitative data analysis wherever possible ensures I fully understand my client's goals and those of the optimal user base.
Step 2: define
These empathy-based research findings are taken into consideration in order to define the target user segment and which of their needs should be addressed by the future design. I use this research-derived insight to define a problem statement, relying heavily on "How-Might-We..?" questions and plenty of sticky-notes.
step 3: ideate
Once the problem has been defined, it's time to generate ideas and potential solutions. Sketching and mind mapping are accompanied by a productive mix of imaginative creativity and acute rationality - that is, both in the traditional and economic sense of the word.
Step 4: Prototype and test
After selecting the most promising idea or ideas from Step 3, I begin working on a minimum viable prototype. Depending on the requirements and restrictions of the design challenge, I may choose to create an interactive prototype using InVision, KeyNote, or the ever-dependable pen and paper. Once the prototype is in the hands and screens of my test participants, I may use a "hands-off" moderation technique and strictly observe their interactions or a "hands-on" approach to walk through a specific user flow.
Step 5: refine and repeat
As latent needs become apparent through prototype testing and ongoing personal interactions with users, the prototype will be improved until the final design handoff. Although "design is never done," this human-centered design process ensures that I consistently meed the needs of my clients and their target audience with a satisfying user experience and, consequently, a delightfully invisible design.