PROCESS
In real world you rarely have the “ideal process” that goes just by the textbook. UX design process always depends on specific project’s peculiarities. Of course, at its core, most interface design projects include some similar key phases, but the content of each phase, methods and techniques used usually vary significantly from project to project.

This is why instead of drawing some general process scheme (that most likely will have little in common with your real project) I prefer answering here some practical questions about how I usually work.
In general, how do you work?
I work on a consultancy basis directly with my own clients and also in a freelance capacity for some digital agencies. I travel a lot, and in most projects I work remotely. In some cases however I do what I call “design landing operation” :-) meaning that I physically go to the client’s location for a week or more and collaborate more closely.
What types of projects do you do?
My key strength is the detailed user interface design for complex systems. So mostly I am involved in projects that imply the design (or redesign) of functionally rich systems such as SaaS projects, CRM and other back end systems, data-rich business applications, document management tools, desktop and mobile applications, social services and sometimes even games.
Are you working alone?
Most of the time — yes. I’ve intentionally kept my consultancy small and lean, so in most cases it’s just me. In some cases I also engage graphic designers from a bunch of proven guys. I concentrate on what I do best (interaction design for complex systems), so I don’t do graphic design myself. In some projects involving field user research activities, user testing sessions and things like that I also sometimes use the help of an assistant.
What are the typical phases of the project?
Each project is unique, and clients actually come to me on different stages of product development. Sometimes they already have a current version of a system that is up and running, but needs to be redesigned. Sometimes they have some detailed functionality description of the future system and need a UI for this functionality. And sometimes they have only a general product vision and need help not only with interaction design itself, but also with working out the details of product requirements. This is why there is no general project structure that would apply to all cases.

But in more general sense, yes, there are some common UX design stages that you might expect.

When a client already has functionality requirements, I start with understanding basic UX strategy for the project. This is what I usually do in the beginning of almost any project (all big ones for sure). It means that before digging into details of the actual functionality, I start with establishing the overall long-term vision of how the client is going to evolve and develop this system. This is important, because it would possibly have impact on some decisions that I am going to make designing a user interface even for the first version of the product (if this is a new product).

Next, I proceeded to the research and detailed requirements gathering stage. I analyse the requirements and work on understanding the target users. It usually includes some form of user research. In most cases personas for the system or application are formed. When possible — interviews or contextual enquiries with real users are conducted in one form or another — face to face, skype, telephone, questionnaires etc.

After that I move to the the information architecture and task analysis stage. When the project requires (and when the budget and time constraints allow for it), I run some card sorting sessions or use other similar methods to help with decisions regarding system structure.

When the overall system structure is ready and approved, I start building some low fidelity wireframes in order to come up with the appropriate layout for the screens that would optimally support users’ tasks and the most common scenarios. This is followed by interaction design where high fidelity prototyping is done and (ideally, but not always in real life) mockups are tested with the users. This is actually an iterative process, so the detailed design of high fidelity wireframes usually requires several iterations to be polished.

After the high fidelity mockups are ready, I either pass them to the client for implementation, or engage a graphic designer I work with to make some final graphics.

Plus, after the design is approved, my work sometimes is not finished, because I usually do some design supervision during the technical implementation stage. I have to make sure that the result of front-end developers’ work would be consistent with my mockups, and that user interface qualities that I planned for a product would be met.

Of course, in each case the process would differ, but the general scheme is like this.
Ok, what are your rates?
Depending on the nature of the project, I work on either a fixed cost basis or a freelance day rate. Of course, I will provide a detailed estimation after we discuss your project details. I scope out all of my work in advance so you would have a clear indication of the costs involved and where I can add value to your project.

But to give some rough reference point — my average rate is 480 USD per full working day. The actual rate depends on the project scope. The larger is the estimated project scale — the less would be a daily rate. And vice versa, of course. Anyway, let’s discuss your specific project details, and I will provide and estimation.
Is there a way to understand whether we would work well together? I hate it when new contractors let me down, especially when the project is huge.
Sure, I know that when considering work with a new UI/UX contractor, it sometimes is difficult to decide where to start the collaboration. Because it’s always a risky decision in a way — you are not familiar with the processes the new person is using, not sure how punctual he is in terms of deadlines etc. Portfolio usually gives only a glimpse of the results, but not the process itself.

Understanding this, what I usually do with new clients — is a kind of short “test” iteration. We take some small (and more or less independent) part of your product’s functionality, we take a limited, predefined amount of time and budget, and work only with this highly limited scope. And after this small test iteration is finished — we decide whether would be willing to continue collaboration on larger parts of functionality. So, I am all for starting collaboration with some small and safe test iteration.
So, what do we need to start?
Just email me at kirill@slavetski.com or message me on skype: erillar. Before you send me some detailed materials on your project, let’s set up a short call so that you could tell me about the project in general and provide me with some understanding of the context. Most likely, we can do it even today (if I am not on a plane or something). Let’s talk.
Email: kirill@slavetski.com · 

Skype: erillar