What REALLY is a design process?

Recently I have been working on my own ident and I thought taking the time now to carefully evaluate my own design process would be great because being in the swing of workflow has allowed it to become more apparent to me. Earlier during the year, Gareth gave a talk on his design process and his work flow in order to give us a clear example of how a design process is set up. To simplify it, A design process is actually made of what I consider to be five crucial components. Firstly, the brief. This is the ‘low down’ of the project, the initial idea which the client has in mind. This the perfect opportunity for the client and the creative to discuss possible ideas from the brief that are able to be created by the creative judging on their ability and what is realistic when taking into account things such as cost and time. When I do my briefs, I have to mainly consider timescales at this point because I have to work on several projects at once; costs at this point personally are not an issue for my projects as I have the facilities and software available although in the future this would be important to consider.

The next component would be the development stage. This section is where things such as observational drawings take place, other things such as research, development drawings, schematics and testing appear here too. Although to some creatives all these may not take place, but the more that do the more thought out a project would be with less errors occurring later on meaning that a project failing is less likely to occur. I personally do my research to begin with, followed by development drawings and some observational drawings which then would flow onto testing possible ideas. I find doing this works best for me as I logically have always worked this way and have only ever improved on it rather then change the way I work. I have observed people who prefer to do sketches before the research but I find this way for me ends up with me being uneducated and making incorrect decisions making the drawings unrealistic and causing me to be unhappy with my final project, so for me this is a no go.

After this, It is then common for creatives to have several outcomes of an idea before settling on a final idea. For me this stage is important and I have to admit in the past I have skipped it and lived to face the consequences (being a poor final idea). If you limit yourself to one idea, not only are you not pushing your mind to be more creative when developing these ideas but you need to remember you are not trying to please your own desires, but your clients! So, by having several ideas on the page it gives your clients choice, and who doesn’t like choice? Typically when designing for personal projects I will create about 5-6 ideas, but I know in the future when providing for an actual client it would be wise to have a lot more with a range of alterations and leaving the ideas open for the clients to make changes. If for whatever reasons no real ideas have been generated from the development stages, it is not unheard of to go back to the brief and really dig your claws into it! Remember, this is foundation of the project and is everything your client wants so looking at this more than once is needed, especially to double check that your outcomes are met. If I personally find a brief hard to read, I re-write the brief for me to understand and talk to whoever I need too to make sure that I understand what needs to be accomplished. Although some may argue this to be time consuming, I find that it helps me understand the clients demands better so that my aims and objectives are met to a standard that I am happy with.

Next on the agenda would be to develop those ‘final’ ideas into a more solid form with the clients alterations giving the client choice yet again. This stage is different to the previous stage as alterations would have been made and would be more apparent, plus these ideas are more developed then just sketches so that the idea is more solid and formed giving the client a better idea of what the end result could be. Similar to the previous process, more then one idea will be taken ‘further’ so that the client can see more clearly on possible outcomes and give the creative more guidance if required. This is something I do currently on projects to see which outcome is better by creating a more polished draft then just a simple sketch; this could be taking a sketch and designing it within sketchup as this for me is a handy piece of software which allows me to design quickly but with good results.

Once I have passed this stage, I then create the final piece or pieces for them to be ready to show through a presentation. Before showing the client, I would double check that I have met all the aims of the brief and that I believe the project to be finished. Once I am comfortable and have everything completed, I would then show the pieces to my client.

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