There’s many things that design can be used for. Design facilitates relationships with consumers through communications, it’s used to build digital platforms and products or even solve societal issues, but for all these things there’s always an entity driving the design before it becomes a reality, be it a business, a non-profit group or individual. Design starts here. Not with the end product, but with those thinking about the design that product.
You may have heard of the term, ‘design-led’ business or ‘design thinking.’ These terms describe groups of people who create products or solve issues using a creative process that enables them to build effectively and efficiently with high degrees of innovation.
So what is that process? In my design practice I use a process of thinking partly borrowed from the user experience design profession. User experience design is basically designing a product or system with the user top of mind. The reason I like this process is because design should never be anything less than that. It should always be about understanding the needs of the user, working to help them achieve their goals in the most efficient and beautiful way possible.
Whenever I’m designing I use many, if not all of these steps. I find that giving thought to these levels almost always increases the efficiency and ingenuity of the product and the return on the investment.
Stakeholder discussions, project vision/goals, brand strategy, project priorities, measure of success
Competitor analysis, analytics review, content audit, surveys, user interviews, user testing
Use cases, persona creation, storyboards, journey mapping, experience mapping, workflow diagrams, methodology
Mood boards, site map, sketching, wire-framing, prototyping, user testing
Prototyping, BETA launch, user testing, launch.
And of course the process can be cyclical in nature: by returning to strategic thinking one can improve the quality of the product on second launch for example, and help create new goals and priorities.