Why the Design Process Is Important

The strength of a design lies as much in the steps taken to create it as in the final result. The process — the totality of time, effort and attempt at solving the given design problem — demonstrates the care a designer is willing to take and the depth to which he is willing to go on behalf of the client. A good process will pretty much guarantee a good result.

Behind the solution to any design problem (by problem I mean that thing that the design is supposed to accomplish) are the hours and ideas that were birthed in search of a solution. The one who does not push through several concepts is not really engaging in solving the problem but appears to be more concerned with getting the job over with. The client might as well have picked a ready-made icon or template from one of the myriad web sites that sell them, as if design is an off-the-rack product.

People tend to default to their lowest level of effort, and design is no different. It’s tempting to land on the first idea, declaring it the best solution. The development of more than one idea demonstrates that:

  • There is more than one possible solution or direction to a problem;
  • The designer has taken a thoughtful approach to the client’s problem;
  • That the designer has explored a variety of approaches and understands the clients needs;
  • The client has a choice in the matter, along with a sense of participation and empowerment.

Additionally, developing a body of ideas builds confidence in the designer, knowing he has done the work and through that has a rationale for his thinking which backs up his design choices.

I’ve heard many decry the development of multiple solutions to a single problem by saying that their first idea is always the best one so why bother with more? How do they know that? It’s my experience that I don’t know which idea is my best unless I generate at least more than one. Often the first idea is indeed the best solution, but I will never know that until I have developed many options, scrutinized all the possibilities and then determined the best of the bunch.

Why is process important?

Design, if it’s going to hit the target, cannot be off-the-rack but instead needs to be custom made and one-of-a kind. Ready-mades and quick solutions have little value to the client and certainly don’t increase the value of the designer in the client’s eyes. Process shows what the designer is willing to expend in search of the solution. The designer who labors builds strength in a wealth of ideas and the skill to select the one that serves the purpose best.

Given the multitude of talented people in the design pool, the problem-solving process is a huge deal. The ability to think, evaluate and determine the best idea will set a designer apart from the pool and add value to both the working relationship with the client and the end result.

Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and principal of Alvalyn Creative, an independent consultancy providing brand strategy design and bespoke illustration for more than 30 years. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business school and podcast for creative freelancers. She teaches design and design practice on the college level with design schools and programs.

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