What do you mean you “..don’t have a design process..”? You just “…play it by ear..”, or “…go with the flow…”? With-out a clearly defined process your design project can quickly get out of hand – having you chasing around loose ends and uninformed client direction. That could get you into trouble, cost you lot’s of extra time, and end up driving you crazy!
We can’t always control the crazy things the client might request (make my logo bigger for instance), but we can manage the work flow by framing the project with an established design process.
Whether it’s a logo, a website or a piece for print, any graphic design project suffers in the absence of the ordered consideration afforded by a carefully conceived design process.
What is a Design Process?
The term process can be described as a systematic strategy, with established constraints, used to develop solutions to a problem. Two important aspects of a good process is that it is both scalable (can be effectively applied to problems of various scales & content) and reproducible (can be effectively applied repeatedly).
A design process is much the same only the “problem” is more of a “challenge” and while scientific process is fairly rigid, a design process needs to be more fluid, adapting steps & constraints to individual projects easily, while still supplying the basic framework of process.
The key to a successful design process?
Have one. Period. While the specifics of the design process vary from designer to designer, I’ve noticed that one thing remains constant across successful professional designers – they have a process and they use it.
Typically a design process is a series of steps or phases that your design project goes through on it’s way from your first client interaction to the application of the finished piece. It acts as a road map guiding the project from initiation to completion with specific stops along the way.
Steps of a Design Process
Steps or phrases will be different for a logo design than they will be for print layout, or website, but they generally include some variation of the following…
- Brief/Specs – Get client Info
- Research – Get market info & inspiration
- Concepts/Prototyping/Variations – get ideas, work them
- Presentation – show the client
- Feedback/Selection – get client responses & direction
- Revision/Final Touches – incorporate client input, complete project
A sample logo design process for instance may look like…
- Initial Design Brief
– Client outlines general information, type of business, name
– Client outlines requirements including preferences, format, and intended use
– Designer tries to better understand the clients market & needs
– Designers begins to put their ideas down in sketches or rough mock ups
– Designer presents concepts to the client for approval & direction
- Revision/Final Touches
– Designer incorporates any client feedback and makes the logo ready to use
A website design process, of course, will incorporate a number of unique steps and phases related to more technical aspects of the project such as platform selection, usability testing, coding, cross platform functionality and bug testing (to name a few). While print projects will be host to a whole other set of print-specific steps or phrases to their process.
Do you have a design process? Care to share it?
This post isn’t an exhaustive study of design process, but rather a reminder of how important an established process can be to a designer. Frankly I’m still establishing my own processes and look forward to any input or discussion that follows. Please feel free to outline your own process or point out things I might have missed. Post or email any related resources you’ve come across, I’d be happy to add them below.
Other design process steps and related phrases…
- Design brief
- overview of design goal, allow client to communicate their needs/wants
- establishing specific constraints & requirements including colors, imagery & format
- review design specs & goals, make certain they were communicated effectively
- brainstorming, mind mapping, general conceptualization, inspiration
- Concept Development
- visual exploration of ideas including thumbnails, sketching & rough mock-ups
- presenting design solution concepts or proofs
- Prototyping or variations
- explore out variations of select concepts
- ongoing improvement of select concepts
- Testing & Feedback
- subjecting select design solution concepts to specific audience critique
- Finishing Touches/Final pass
- clean up work, button up loose ends, cross the “T”s and dot the “I”s
- implementation of the selected solution
Design process related resources:
General Design Process
- Wikipedia: Design Process
- Usability First on ‘Design Process’
- pingmag Talks about the website development process
Logo Design process
- David Airey shares his logo design process
- Jacob Cass on logo design process of top graphic designers
- www.allgraphicdesign.com article on logo design creation process
- www.logodesignworks.com a nice outline of their design process
Web Design process
- Great beginners resource, including design process info
- chromaticsites outlines steps to creating a professional web design
- Adobe.com talks design process
- web-strategist.com on Web design and work flow process
- Garysimon.net Great article on web design process
Illustration Design Process
- psdtuts on the role of sketching in the design process
- Jay Montgomery on ‘Design process’
- Antone on his design process