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How a Remote Designer Starts a Creative Process

When it comes to the creative process, where do we start? The question in itself is quite broad; there are so many different ways – for now, let’s focus on just one.  Let me tell you the secrets of my creative process as a remote designer.

Working for a Singaporean company from Thailand with colleagues spread over seven countries can be a challenge. But the key is: communication. We communicate all the time and in many ways. Our Slack group runs 24 hours a day.

The set-up

We base every design decision on data. Designing is not just about making things pretty but making them useful. Luckily we live in a time where data is easy to get, so why not use it? It could be heatmaps, customer journeys, customer feedback, Google Analytics, surveys and so on. Therefore, we kickstart every project with a couple of workshops to get a better understanding of what the customers needs.  

The workshops are really useful to me as a designer since a lot of valuable information comes up here. We use Mural.ly for these sessions, which makes a generally cumbersome process a bit more fun and light.

Design Workshop on Mural.ly

We cover our version of the lean canvas, as well as a UX and design blueprint. Mural.ly is a great tool built with boards and post-its which make it easy for everyone to understand and know where we are heading which in itself makes it a perfect match for our needs during the workshop phase.

For client meetings, we use Google Hangouts or Skype. It allows us to have multiple people on the call and the ability to screen share is extremely beneficial.

Client call on Skype across 5 countries

UX first

After that our UX designer, Avik Ganguli takes over. He then analyses and translate all the information and data into wireframes. We will usually use InVision to keep track of all the wireframes and later the mockups.

We divide it into four categories: “UX in Progress,”“Ready for UI,” “Client Review” and “Done.” We set it up this way, so everybody knows where we are at as a team. We also have a Trello board that tells us who is working on what page at any given time. Which helps to clear up a lot of misunderstanding when working in different time zones.

Now the fun begins!

I start out by building a moodboard that sets the right mood and gives me a head start. It can be done in Mural, Photoshop, Inboard or wherever, but I usually just make a folder and divide my inspiration into categories such as “colors,” “fonts,” “UI,” and so on.

Design inspiration

I have been working in design for about 16 years now and due to this, I have built up quite a big design databank which I dip into frequently.  I keep it neatly organized with Inboard, and when it comes to keeping my icons design bank in order, I use IconJar. If I do not have anything that fits my assignment, I will turn to sites such as Behance, Dribbble, and Iconfinder. For standard UI elements, I will go to Teehan + Lax.

My head at this point is spinning and loaded up with all kinds of great designs, so I head over to Photoshop where I will open one of my standard templates that I have created for web, iPad, mobile, watch, icons and so on. Doing this gives me a head start and handily, a set resolution for the given document and pre-made grids.

design grid
My different artboard templates

I also use artboards in PhotoShop as it gives me a faster overview of the whole project.

It is worth noting that a crucial app when working with mobile design is SilkScreen. While many other apps can do the same thing, SilkScreen works for me because it allows me to see my Photoshop 1:1 on my mobile screen while working on it in Photoshop. Also, it lets me scroll on my phone as if it was a real website.

The rest of the process is pretty straightforward – so for now, this is where I will leave you.

 

What is your creative process? We’re curious to know! To make this article a discussion, why not tweet us your thoughts?

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