Many people talk about design without knowing what exactly it is. These so called designers think that knowing photoshop, Axure or iRise is doing design. How wrong they are...
Design is a creative and collaborative process. It starts with the generation of ideas through brainstorming. Then, you sift these ideas to find the best among them. Then, you work on these ideas to generate concepts. Later, these concepts are tried and tested many times with real users until the concepts shape up in meaningful and usable designs. This process is repeated many times, therefore, the process of design is iterative. Jumping to prototyping without going through the design process is both fatal and futile.
You will be surprised to hear this but a successful design is done by the user, with the user, for the user. The role of the designer is just to facilitate the design process. Also, as a designer one should not forget that the product "must" meet client's strategic goals too, otherwise, it will be a business failure. Balancing both client and user's needs is very critical for a good designer. One wrong move and the design is doomed.
Design is fun. It is an intrinsic part of life. Enjoy every second of it.
Here are some of the examples that are the outcome of the design process through meetings, discussions, JAD sessions, focus groups or whatever you want to call it. I call it brainstorming.