The first step of any design project is to identitfy the purpose of the design. Whether creating graphics for road signs or invitations for a Gala, a design has a purpose that must be fulfilled. These must be indentified properly.
After obtaining the objective, it's time to create concepts of solutions. Researching helps to gain information that will help to build the concepts. It also helps to create inspiration. The conept is the framework of the final design.
The final stage is to take the chosen concept and bring it to life using whatever tools are necessary. Projects require varying combinations of tools. This stage also includes printing. A design isn't finished until it's served its function.