How I Manage Design Projects

Managing freelance projects can sometimes be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. As long as you have a process that you can streamline and scale, it makes it easier for both you (the client) and myself to follow.

The Process

In order to follow a path to success with every project, I like to have a process with everything from creating an invoice to designing a solution. It’s something I like to constantly improve on, particularly because technology is always evolving. Something that worked this month, may have improved the following month. So not only am I working with a proven formula, I’m tweaking it as I learn more about new tools and ways of doing things.

Project management tools

Asana/Trello
Once you’re ready to get started on a project, I clone my UX/UI design and development success template. This outline every step from UX research to  go live, or handing over files. Because there can be a lot of steps and sub-steps, I add each as a task.

Once I’ve done this, I add you, the client as a user. This allows you to create tasks, view timelines, see who the task is assigned to and when the due date is.
web development process.

Where custom contracts are created, I’ll modify these steps to suit.  I’ve had a few complex projects where I’ve started with a Project brief, outlining everything from the background of the project, timelines, deliverables and measures of success.  I’ll then get everyone on the team to agree to the brief before I then break up those tasks defined in the timeframe into Asana.

 

Calls & Communication

In order to be able to focus and manage multiple projects, I try and keep communication to a minimum via messages through Slack, Gtalk or Asana only.   That way I can get that uninterrupted time needed to get each task done sooner than if I were constantly context switching.   Emails are also an option – I try my best to keep my inbox empty. This way I know I’ve replied to everyone in a timely manner.

Phone calls or Skype/Zoom/Google meetup calls are kept mainly for the start and end of a project where I can meet you (if you’d like) face to face, and/or when I give rationale to design decisions and pitching ideas.

UX Research

How do I conduct UX research as a freelancer? Conducting research in any manner is the exactly the same whether it’s a freelance project or a corporate job. The steps are outline as follows:

  1. Understand user goals & problems
  2. Make assumptions based on research findings
  3. Design the best User Experience for this assumption
  4. Test.

Each and every project goes through this process in one way or another.  I use UX tools and methodologies in order to find those goals and problems.

Depending on the types of users in your project I will find a way to recruit users to speak too.  More recently I used AirTasker to find students who moved to Australia from overseas to study – the ideal users I needed to speak to.  I was able to post the task in the morning, and by the afternoon I had a list of user interviews lined up!

Prototype

There are a ton of tools today that allow you to view a design project as a prototype. With my projects, I typically create it either using Invision app, or Sketch. This allows you to view your design and navigate the way it would work when built. Although it doesn’t look exactly as it would when built, we start to understand the connection between each screen and how that benefits users.