Phase 1: Gathering specs & requirements
Although often neglected by many less experienced designers, this is perhaps the most important aspect of the entire work. This stage pretty much makes or breaks the project. A tight and defined scope usually ensures a smooth process and enables you, as a project manager, to know that you are on the same page as your client. During your initial kickoff meeting, I ask every question I can think of about the product’s features, flow, target demographic, competition etc.
As a designer, you may think that your only concern is ultimately the design of the product, which may be true for certain specialized design roles (I’m looking at you Product Designers). I personally like to think of myself as a Design Consultant & Project Manager. I believe that my role requires the understanding of business goals and adapting my design expertise to push for the achievement of those goals within a given time frame & budget.
This step obviously requires A LOT of communication with the client. For me, it usually involves many brainstorming sessions, group Skype calls, sketching ideas etc. The deliverable for this phase is a simple PDF “MVP Overview”, outlining the specs of the app/product and documenting all brainstorming findings & sketches.