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This is how I usually work:

  • After completed business and user requirements gathering I have a brainstorming session together with the project group to come up with big, high-level ideas about the concept and features on the web site.
  • Then I'll flesh out the ideas myself on a site map and a couple of wireframes.
  • Then I meet the project team again and discuss the wireframes.
  • And finally after the wireframes have been approved the art director/visual designer start to bring the wireframes into life in Photoshop.

Should I start with wireframes or with a couple of rough design sketches to direct the interaction designer? Who should take the lead in the design process?

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Hi Tony, we prefer questions that ask after facts, not opinions. I edited your questions to be more objective in that sense. –  Rahul Sep 4 '12 at 12:06
    
Great, sorry and thanks. –  Tony Bolero Sep 4 '12 at 12:43
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Do you start with wireframes or with a couple of rough design sketches to direct the interaction designer.

Yes, and no. Its important to be able to move between design visuals and not constrain yourself to a waterfall model (1-2-3-4) without the ability to redo previous work. A good examle of this is Jesse James Garretts 5 elements, where you start at the bottom moving further up in the layers towards the visual design surface. But, as Jesse James says in his book "The Elements of User Experience": "If something fails along the way, move between layers more freely. The important part is that one process step can't finish before all preceeding steps have finished". Meaning finish strategy before scope and finish scope before structure.

Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett

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I follow a similar process but with an extra step - flow design.

I prefer, as I'm the UX person, to know what it is the user needs to achieve. I like to either use pre-written (or I write them myself) use cases based on what the stystem needs to help the user achieve.

To use a website example: As a customer I want to be able to add an item to my basket, then return to the shopping page from which I came. As a customer I want to add an item to my basket and proceed to checkout.

This is a high-level flow of action which I will then break down in to screens. From screens I will calculate how the user can interface those screens, then build the UX around that. Once the UX is calculated the design is built around the UX.

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So, you are the boss over the visual designer so to speak? –  Tony Bolero Sep 4 '12 at 7:45
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@TonyBolero I would say it's more of a process order. First the IxD or UX Designer says what's going on, then the visual designer says how it looks like. IMO it's not a boss - inferior relationship but more of a mutual dependency. –  Alexej Froehlich Sep 4 '12 at 7:56
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I like to be, where possible, but I actually got in to UX from being a UI designer so on some projects I'm both. It means that as a UX person I can't blame the UI person and vice versa! Maybe I wouldn't use the word 'boss' as I put UX and visual on the same level, but yeah when I'm UX only their commands do come from me! –  TJH Sep 4 '12 at 7:58
    
Well put @AlexejFroehlich –  TJH Sep 4 '12 at 7:59
    
Well, I've used the word boss a little casual. :) It was really the process order I was thinking about. So, thanks. –  Tony Bolero Sep 4 '12 at 8:09
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