My process & approach

For me, good work doesn’t just happen.

It's a process

Throughout my education and first several design jobs, I’d always hear more senior creatives say, “Show your process!” I repeated the mantra myself, and knew that "process" was critical to creative. But if you want to know a secret, I don't think I ever really got it—not really. Sure, I owned a sketchbook (or 20), I jotted down notes, and I made sure to talk about process during job interviews. But the truth? The truth was, my actual design process started by sitting down to a crisp, white, artboard and beginning to play. Through trial, error, and digital exploration, I found my way to attractive designs, nary a thumnail sketch in sight.

Maybe I just wasn’t a process person—or worse, not that great of a designer?


Breaking out of my lane

It wasn’t until 2016, when my job as Director of Design at Mostly Serious enabled me to work on some portions of business that might have been “outside my lane” in previous jobs, that I started to get a glimpse of what real process actually means.

While traditional agencies tend to silo designers within the walls of the Creative department, I now found myself in sales meetings, listening to clients discuss their needs, their businesses, their SWOT analysis, internal jargon and more. I had the opportunity to ask questions, pull on conceptual threads, and consider how the work I would do could help achieve their direct business goals. I was also tasked with delivering portions of a new service offering—a research suite that included a deep dive into Google Analytics, comparative peer website audits, user surveys, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups. Additionally, I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with account managers to develop project strategies, informed by these learnings, that would satisfy the critical objective goals of the project.

In this new internal approach I was free to leave my desk, get in the room with stakeholders, foster needed conversations and collaborations, and use a variety of tools to further inform my understanding of the problem at hand and guide my solutions every step of the way. In truth, that experience was transformational in the way I now approach every project, as big as a complicated website or as small as set of digital ads to run on Facebook.


My Enlightened Approach

I now have a process I can truly call my own, and it informs every single project I touch. The keystone of my approach lies in defining clear objectives from day one, and using them as guiding stars, as rationale, for every design decision made along the way. Now, ask me to show you my work, and I'll show you a path founded in research, collaborative alignment, and objective-led strategy.

My advice?

Break out of your silo, switch lanes, ask how you can have an impact here.

Digital Process Milestones

Strategic Planning

Critical Research

Siteflow Collab

Wireframe (UX) Design

Visual (UI) Design

Dev Collab

Leading with the objective

So often, creative work starts with a client request: Design me a new logo, Make us a brochure, Shoot a commercial. For an agency or designer, the first response should be, "What are you looking to do?" By getting at the goals and underlying need of any ask, a strategic team can help suggest tactics that most directly support the objective—which may or may not be a brochure or TV commercial.

I begin every project by finding strategic alignment on goals and objectives that in turn produce work that actually works to deliver on a need. Objectives help me make navigational priority decisions, user paths toward effective conversion, and a million other decisions over the lifespan of a project.

JKS