Having taken on all of the external inspiration from the previous research work, I now get to the part of the process where I am most comfortable and to be totally honest the part of the design process I find the most exciting.

Design Synthesis

The 'organise and understand' tag line from the title can also be thought of as 'design synthesis' - where all of the external stimuli is taken on board and processed. During this time the ideas that will makeup your final solution make themselves visible through a process of inference, sensemaking and reframing. Working tacitly, I create a quantity of artefacts used as waypoints in the process. Most often these artefacts aren't designed to be shared outside of the project team, although that doesn't mean they're secret either.

Task flows
Task flows - I talk about my versions of this technique in Leah's excellent The User Experience Team Of One book

Design artefacts can include many, many things from wireframes to style tiles. I usually use a mixture of task or process flows, sketches, user journeys, sketch boards, wireframes, heuristic markup amongst other techniques. They are really just the 'working outs' to our homework. They won't present the answer, they are merely the means to an end.

modelling data
A sketch board is a perfect space for half-formed ideas and theories. Getting ideas out of your head for later review can be really helpful

Design thinkers know that there is no 'one best way' to move through the process. There are useful starting points and helpful landmarks along the way, but the continuum of innovation is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps

Change by Design. Tim Brown, IDEO
Shared understanding with co-creation

Sometimes working alone is the quickest way to a solution, however it isn't always the best. Designing with the project's wider team can have many advantages. Having the opportunity to include domain experts allows you to pick up on nuances lost in the translation between research and design. It allows you to think out loud with a quick feedback loop offered by more brains. It also builds personal investment and buy-in to a proposed solution.

modelling data
Understanding the scope of, organising existing and finding gaps in site content for a completely new IA
Data role-play

A quick way to understand what might happen when presenting complex data options such as faceted navigation is to role-play. I often use this technique (shown below), to make sense of what information will be presented back to the user in different scenarios or upon certain interactions

modelling data
Modelling interactions with sticky notes helps to make sense of large data sets and options
No dogma

Any technique that helps you think through or ideate is fine. I tend not to be dogmatic here, after all I'm looking for a creative solution to a new problem. Blindly following a certain method is no guarantee of success. Trusting your intuition as a designer is the only true way to deliver a successful product with a voice and personality of its own.