6 Steps to a Better Design Process

October 19, 2016

Working in the creative industry for over a decade, I’ve encountered a lot of processes–some good, some bad, and some that made my head hurt. Too frequently, process exists for the sake of process–endless check-ins, briefs, and a slew of meetings to discuss how process is the unequivocal culprit for projects that fall flat.

So how do we craft a process that works? First, we can’t view process as a one-size-fits-all solution. Creating avenues for input while laying a flexible foundation is crucial.

With that in mind, here are some simple steps you can incorporate into your creative process:

Ideation

It starts with an idea–the idea may be completely unrelated to the problem you're trying to solve, and that's okay. Avoid limiting yourself by rushing to define boundaries and guidelines too quickly. The ideation process should be about coming up with something strong enough to push you to action.

Inspiration

Once you have something that you can run with, start looking for sources of inspiration that you can apply. These don't necessarily need to be web patterns. As devices increasingly become more and more integrated into our daily lives, designers should be thinking about how users will interact with a design within the context of their daily lives.

Sketch

Up until this point, everything is in my head. It's not until I've landed on a solution that I begin to sketch. Rather than sketching to solve a problem, I focus my efforts on drawing out the solution that I have in mind. I concentrate on the big picture–transferring the entire solution to paper and adding a few UI elements as they come to mind, but mainly keeping to the broader solution.

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Mockups

I've come to rely on Sketch App to speed up my workflow and thanks to InVision's Craft, I've amassed a component library that I can quickly draw upon. These elements form the basis of my design and I use them to fill in the interface based on my pencil and paper renderings. From here, I can begin to move quickly into various portions of the interface applying a consistent design language.

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Feedback

As a perfectionist, this is something I've struggled with, but I've forced myself to submit my work to as much criticism and feedback as possible. Present your work to your peers, potential users, anyone that can provide useful input.

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Prototype

I consider myself a designer, but I love to bring my work to life. I've taught myself to be very proficient when it comes to writing core HTML/CSS. This ensures that the designs translate as intended and allows the developers on the heavy lifting.

If a design falls flat, it's more likely that there is something wrong with the design itself. Poor design is addressed by hiring and training good designers, rather than embarking on an endless quest for a better process.