A fellow designer asked me recently: “Can you walk me through your design process?”
My answer is always as simple as it is disarming: I do not know.
I do not know because it does not keep me up at night. Solving the process problem is not useful to the people I work with. Their project will not fit inside my process box.
I observe customers. I explore visual styles. I map out navigation paths. I discuss features. I create a backlog. In summary, I know how to execute and when to do what. I use principles to guide me during a project.
I trust myself and my colleagues that we can figure it out along the way.
Some of the best work I have done is work that manifested itself outside of a process. I do not offer my process to clients. I am not Ikea, nor do I aspire to be. I am in the business of knowledge. I offer my experience and insights and ability to come up with a good solution. A process is a marketing trick to make design feel more scientific. Chemical reactions follow a process. Design does not.
Once you let go of process, you can use your energy to focus on output instead.