Design is a means to solve a problem and achieve a business objective. No matter how big or small the design project is, there is always an end goal that is trying to be achieved. Once it is established that there is a need for a new or updated design, the process can begin.
the basic process
ONE- communicate needs & goals
Perhaps the most important step in the course of the project is the first one: Supply the designer with as much information as possible. Here are some common starting places.
- The goal of the project, ie. More traffic to your website, new & increased business during a promotion, more qualified referrals to your business, etc.
- Content and information that is critical to the design, what should be included if possible, and what can be omitted.
- Ideas or preconceived visuals of the end result, resources to keep in mind during the design conception.
TWO- ask questions
From here, the designers will ask their own questions. It is important that they get to the bottom of what is really needed and how best to accomplish the goal, both visually and functionally.
TWO.5- design brief
Depending on the scope of the design project, it is common for the designer to supply a design brief so that all parties understand the direction the project will take, what deadlines will be met, who is responsible for each part, and what research is being done to influence the design.
We really like Peter L Phillips, Creating the Perfect Design Brief, to build our design briefs.
This might seem like a lot of hoopla before the pencil even hits the sketchbook, but take into consideration this quote from the team treehouse blog:
“Time spent understanding the problem will save massive amounts of time later on, because the changes you make should be smaller. Iteration is inevitable, but making changes early is cheaper than changes made later on.” Nick Pettit, Optimize Your Design Process
Once all of the nitty gritty is hammered down, the real work starts. Design starts with “sketching.” Often this means sitting down with a pencil and a sketchbook, but it also can mean skipping the sketch book and going straight to the computer to figure out how to best to lay out critical content and how to make the piece function to the best of its capability. This “sketching” process continues through refining and developing phases until up to 3 designs are ready to submit for review.
FOUR- revise & repeat
The designs are proofed for content, accuracy, visual appeal, and-most importantly- which one best addresses the problem and achieves the project goal. Very specific revisions are delivered back to the designers and the review cycle is repeated up to two more times.
FIVE- implement & assess
Implementation of the design is always the most exciting part. Whether implementation involves printing, distribution, installation, launching, posting, or some other end, it is exciting to get insight and results from the consumers of the design. Measuring the success of the design is a particularly important practice as the age of analytics becomes more accessible. Design is not stagnant. By understanding how successful a design is- how well it solved the initial problem- updates to the design months, years, or decades down the road will be more obvious and will have the potential to be many times more successful in the future.
For a great infographic on the design process, check out Design Deeper's Visual.