#1 DEFINING GOALS
When I'm working with a client I take the time to understand their values and goals. I need to understand what they're building and who they're targeting. This gives me a grasp on the goals I should have when creating this product.
I also come to understand the technical needs of the client. Does the company have established branding requirements that need to be followed? What are the target platforms, or how will the final product be delivered? These are all things I have to take into consideration before I can even start.
#2 PRICING ON VALUE
When I have a firm grasp of the project goals I come to the client with a quote. This amount takes several different factors into account. While I do not charge hourly, the time it will take to complete the project is a factor in the pricing. I focus on the value of the work I would be producing when deciding the final quote, and it's not something I take lightly. I do not offer discounts without removing features, but I will not remove features I feel will compromise the final product.
If the client is ok with the amount of the quote then I ask for a deposit before I start work. This allows me to dedicate the time needed to work in order to complete the project in a timely manner.
I believe in the once concept approach. This means that when it comes to deliver the final product the client isn't going to have to make a choice between 2 or more concepts. I believe that if the client is paying me to provide a design solution then it's my job to do so. As a result, I spend a large portion of the time working out ideas.
My strategy for design is to try everything, no matter how silly it seems in your head. I do what is essentially a brain dump on paper. Based on the goals that have been defined, I start drawing whatever ideas pop into my head. I feel like if I don't try everything, I will miss on a great idea. While these drawings are all very rough, they give me a good visualization of what may or may not work.
#4 NARROWING IT DOWN
When I feel like I have 2 or 3 solid starting points, I then start to flesh those ideas out. I spend a lot of time reworking the concepts, and mixing and matching ideas. The objective is to narrow down to a single concept that best meets the project goals. It's a lot of trial and error, but it results in something that I feel is a superior product.
It all culminates in the final sketch. This is more detailed and defined than the previous drawings because this is what I will work off for the final product. At this stage I also start putting together a color scheme on the computer that I will use when it comes time to creating the final product.
#5 CREATING THE FINAL PRODUCT
First thing's first, I scan the final sketch onto my computer. I don't often trace the sketch, because I feel like it constrains the final product too much. I simply like to have it up on the screen for quick reference. The reason I like to have the color scheme defined ahead of time is so I can start to give the icon color as I start putting it together in Sketch.
When I've finished drawing the icon, I then go through to fix any issues there might be. Nearly every time I create an icon there are some nasty half-pixels that need to be taken care of before I can call it a finished product. I go through and check the size and position of every shape and line, and fix any of those values that aren't whole numbers. I pride myself in producing pixel-perfect designs.
When the final product is completed, I write up a case study that I then send to the client alongside the final invoice for the remainder of the amount quoted (after the deposit). The case study informs the client on the decisions I made throughout the design process, and explains why the final product meets the goals of the project.
Once the final invoice is paid I send the final product in the required formats and sizes.