Conduct user interviews. What are the current woes and wins for the user? What are the goals and objectives of the stakeholders? What is the competition doing? Do a heuristic analysis on the current design or competition. The more user research that can be done in the beginning will ensure a solid foundation for the end design making it more impactful for both the users and the stakeholders.
Using the information from research and stakeholder interviews, I can build a project summary. This information is used to help build an affinity diagram and persona. Once I have a persona I think about a scenario that will get the user not just from A to B; but how will they interact with the product as a whole. I build a user flow for this to help stakeholders, developers and others to better understand the design decisions that need to happen.
Admittedly, I still love design and love getting deep into wireframes. I feel like I hit the zone when thinking through what a user might tap, or how they could gesture through a product. I work closely with developers to complete these mockups to make sure we are building within our technical constraints. If the stakeholders are happy with the initial wireframe concepts, these can be used to test and find holes in the user flow. Ideally I can test early and often, this IS user experience after all! It's important to go back and reiterate again after testing to ensure the final product is optimal for all involved.
I have been an Art Director for advertising, Brand Manager for consumer goods, Designer for brands, people, nonprofits, and companies. All in all, these have essentially been User Experience Design under a different labels. To me, UX is how the user interacts with your product, from every angle; it is more business strategy than pushing pixels.
I moved here from Minneapolis where I spent 8 years chasing "patio season". I now live at a camp on a lake just outside of Port Orchard. It's pretty but I'm always in fear that a bird will fly away with one of my dogs. When I'm not working I'm baking goodies, finding more ways to be on a boat, wine tasting, or planning my next trip!