This article is my attempt at abstracting how I go about my product design process. It's not a strict framework by any means and I may not always follow it, but it's an accurate description of how I work.
As a younger designer, I'd often be stumped with the dilemma of: I was taught about design this way and to follow this process, but the project doesn't fit the mold of that process. Couple what gets taught in school and the various articles about design processes and frameworks, it can be confusing knowing the best way to go about solving a design problem. These plentiful articles go into great detail into design frameworks (e.g. the double diamond) but actually applying them in your work can be more trouble than it's worth.
The different processes described in product design today.
The way these frameworks were described made the design process seem very linear and smooth-sailing. However, when I started my career, the trajectory of my projects was anything but. Then to add another layer on top of this, every project followed a different path, with a different set of steps and checkpoints.
This all seems very obvious--of course not every project is going to be the same--but with the way product design is often portrayed and taught, it doesn't prepare you for chaotic nature of actually working in a team and dealing with obstacles.
After about a year, I could distill my process down to the following:
Cycling through understand, design and evaluate; and iterating through multiple of these cycles.
The design process I follow is an iterative cycle of:
From the start of a project to the end of the project (and even beyond), I'll go through a proportionate number of cycles of these three steps. Depending on the project, I may not even go through a whole cycle, or I may even skip a step or a cycle in some part of the process. In practice, here's what some of these steps, at varying parts of the process may look like:
In terms of the doing, this is what it looks like but maybe more importantly, throughout this whole process, (I try to) I keep in mind or seek out the following:
What problem are we solving?
What is success and how are we measuring it?
What do users thinks + What does data suggest?
As mentioned previously and if it needs to be said, every project's different and the process for one project may look different than the next. But throughout all product design projects--whatever is done exactly--it's most important to keep users in mind and (ideally though admittedly not always practical) actually involve them throughout the process. So that's what I try to do and how I work in a nutshell.