Every design is evidence of the process that went into creating it.
Some processes are very short. A designer will run with the first idea that they think of. Other solutions are true solutions: they address a problem and serve a purpose other than mere decoration. There is thought, problem-solving, investigation, trial and error, and evaluation involved in the process.
My design process results in carefully crafter, thoughtful and effective graphic assets that enable the client to attain their goals in the marketplace. Whether it’s building a customer base, increasing a donor base, or bringing people together for training or celebration, the process I undertake for each design project involves the following parts:
1. Define the problem.
What needs to be accomplished? Is there a need for the design? I make sure I understand what the client wants, and why. This is where I need to buy in to the idea.
This phase is where strategies and tactics are determined, roll-out schedules, media options, durations, etc are set. I work with the client to plan all the touch points that will connect the client with the end users. We determine voice, approach and how the graphic assets will be managed post-project. I set budgets and plan strategy.
Research is about discovery, and is the foundation for my concept development. I collect, sort and prioritize all the information necessary to develop ideas. This includes interviews with the client, research of the client’s competitors and target audience, and involves discussion, asking questions, and conversation. Information not necessary to the end result is set aside
When possible, I observe how people interact with a similar design. The main thing here is to understand how they’re involved with it.
I summarize current issues and possible solutions that address the issues.
When I have enough information to work with, I develop concept drawings, keeping the research results and conclusions in mind. Drawings begin rough and then become more developed. At this stage I’m all paper and pencil. My sketchbook and pencil are my best friends.
Here, I evaluate the ideas I’ve expressed on paper. What will work, what won’t. I’ll have discussions with the client (if this is a client project) but won’t be showing the roughs. I ask questions to gain greater understanding. I narrow the ideas down the field of candidates to a few great ideas. The good ones and also-rans are set aside but not tossed out.
4. Develop prototypes.
This is where I move to the computer and transfer the selected concepts to the digital realm. This is the first round of refinements of the concepts and result in what will be presented to the client. I refine the ideas into presentable visuals, but they are not finished works yet. These preliminary design ideas or illustration comprehensives are presented, discussed, and a final direction is chosen.