From the onset of any project, I work to get to know who I’m designing for. What problems do they face? What are their realities? I tend to ask a lot of questions to understand ‘why.’ Knowing these things and the capabilities of our team then help us define how we can make an impact, and how we’ll measure it. I then generate ideas we can test and get feedback on from users, the team, and stakeholders. I refine solutions based on what we learn and work with the team while we build everything—to make sure we launch something we’re all proud of. After launching, I make an effort to follow up and learn from people using what we made. This often generates new questions and ideas. Rinse and repeat.
I value the expertise my teammates bring to the table. I know problem solving is a joint effort, so I involve the team as much as possible in my design process. I share work regularly, discussing the pros and cons of solutions and listen for gaps and technical constraints. Sometimes we figure it out together by whiteboarding or talking it through. I’ve found working in this flexible way helps us make decisions quickly, and builds an atmosphere of respect where everyone can bring up ideas.
Working mobile first often has beneficial effects on projects. With limited screen real estate, you’re forced to get really clear about what you show or don’t. Often this means tasks are focused and broken up into discrete bits for progressive disclosure. Plus, native mobile devices are packed with sensors that allow you to do cool things with location, cameras, sound, etc. to make an experience really rich. I’ll caveat all this with the fact that it’s always important to know where users are, and meet them there.