Going through my desk today I accidentally found some of my old sketches and wireframes from the very first projects I worked on. Looking at them now I realize how much my work methods have changed. The creative flow differs from one project to the next, reflecting the influence of the unique techniques I was studying at the particular moment of creation. Now thinking about those techniques and methods, I notice that I have come up with a unique method that best suits my creative process.
When I get a new project the most challenging and interesting part is the brainstorming and generating ideas. If I’m excited about a project I can’t wait to start working on it, the ideas just pop-up in my head and I can’t wait to put some of them on paper and see which ones work best with the problem I need to solve. Often I wait for a day or two after a project has been assigned to me, without doing anything at all, just sitting on the problem for a while and letting it settle down. During this time I find myself thinking about it unintentionally, trying to come up with a strategy to approach the problem (being that a website, poster design or a logo). What I discover, later on, is that the first idea/concept I have for a solution is usually the one I will choose to develop, but it is also the one that the client will pick at the end (after being offered two or three different solutions). That has probably something to do with me focusing on that solution and trying to make it stand out.
One of the first techniques I learned is Time Boxing my activities. I determine the steps I need to go through and assign each step a time frame of 20 min. This prevents me from over thinking and concentrating too much on one solution, keeps me under pressure to finish the task in time. I start with research and getting ideas together (the mind mapping technique comes in handy here).
Next step is evaluation and determining the content. Then I make rough sketches and wireframes for the ideas I choose, I evaluate each and determine the best solutions. At this point, if I promised a client the possibility to choose from more ideas, I send the final clean sketches for evaluation and explain the meaning behind each. When I have the final concept I proceed to the visual design thinking. I present the design and tell the client that this is the time to make a final evaluation and if there are any changes, they need to be done now before I start with coding.
Of course, there can be exceptions in the creative process depending on the project, client or if I am willing to experiment and try out a new approach. But having a routine makes me more efficient, it reduces procrastination time to a minimum (as I only have very little time to finish each task) and helps me focus on the problem.