TLDR: The Design Process de-risks work by forcing clarity through a series of methodical steps that still allow for wild experimentation. It is neither too rigid nor too vague a process. It frames success criteria as a clear target every step of the way.
lot of creatives may seem to hate rules. But any producer who cares about what they’re working on will adopt guidelines to lead them through uncertainties. Inspiration can only carry us so far in the creative process. When we find a formula that works, we learn to stick with it. Still, good outcomes aren’t entirely in our control.
A lot of creatives may seem to hate rules. But any producer who cares about what they’re working on will adopt guidelines to lead them through uncertainties. Inspiration can only carry us so far in the creative process. When we find a formula that works, we learn to stick with it. Still, good outcomes aren’t entirely in our control.
Every business wants a less risky road to success. At work, we want outcomes to be in our control as much as possible. Anyone in a collaborative setting needs to understand the role they play in the process, and the rules they can use to de-risk their work.
Risk can be a very good thing. It means that you’re attempting to do something that may not have been done before, or at least, not done well. As someone who has dedicated her career to working with B2B technology companies, most of what is attempting to be done in this space is inherently risky because it’s new. It’s about pushing boundaries, exploring possibilities, blending the new and exciting with the comfortable and familiar. For companies with innovation as their aim, a certain amount of risk must be embraced.
Design plays well in these environments. Specifically, designers who have been trained in a tried-and-true design process do well toeing the line between ambiguity and hard deadlines, both of which are rampant in startups and technology companies.
The Design Process works for any kind of design, whether for a physical product, a digital service or a customer experience. It starts with understanding the big picture and breaking it down into manageable pieces so they can be evaluated, elaborated on, refined and packaged for production.
What I love about the Design Process is that it forces clarity through a series of methodical steps that still allow for wild experimentation. It is neither too rigid nor too vague a process. It puts boundaries around the work so no amount of ambiguity can feel too monumental a task to break down. It keeps us focused on a single prioritized outcome so success is not just a hope, but a clearly framed target to aim at every step of the way.
The basic rules of the Design Process are easy to follow.
Anyone can do it, designer or not.
- Define the problem to solve.
- Do research to establish context.
- Explore many possible solutions in a time-boxed fashion.
- Narrow down the solutions to a few that stand out. Get feedback.
- Choose one solution to refine. Get feedback.
- Refine once more. Get final approval.
- Package and deliver.
- Evaluate and redesign as needed.
These steps can be stretched or compressed in duration, but none of them should be skipped, no matter the deadline.
If you’re going to linger on any step, linger on defining the solution. Getting hung up on research leads to endless rabbit trails that may not bring about something especially profound. Getting hung up on endless variations and iterations can be more a symptom of unclear priorities than a sign of prolific design genius. The goal is not to cling to any one idea too soon. Ideas are not the precious morsels we sometimes feel they are. Implementation is where the war is won. ⚑
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