I start with ideas, move to wireframing, and jump into the browser as soon as possible. Though not central to my process, Photoshop and Illustrator are part of my toolkit, as is my trusty Wacom Intuous 5 Touch pen tablet and my many half-full Rhodia sketchbooks. The tools don't make the designer, but that doesn't make me love them any less.
Establishing a connection and eliciting an emotional response turns a visitor into an advocate. From considering user needs and site objectives to implementing the visual design, my goal is all about inspiring loyalty.
What makes something distinctive? Bravery. The element of suprise. An intuitive interface. The shock factor. Whatever it may be, it's important that whatever you make is unique and worth remembering by thinking out of the box.
Delivering value to the client in each iteration is imporant; your success is surely also mine. This can be carried over into other aspects of life--I love to teach, and find it rewarding to add value to the lives of others by sharing the knowledge I've gained about my craft over the years.
Communication is key in the design process. Being honest about expectations from the beginning is the formula to creating a successful, profitable relationship. By using estimation, IPMs, and frequent communication, you always know where you stand.