Today, design is everywhere. It has reached peak popularity as images have become the driving force of marketing. Great design is a process that can be broken down into four parts: observation, reframing, designing, and testing. All with the goal of improving how we experience a product or service.
Like most processes, knowledge and doing are two very distinct things. With design, people often think they’re designing, but they are not. To be great at design you must understand the psychology behind it. That is, to use creativity as a business tool.
Step 1 – Observation
The first step in design is to observe the problem. This is harder than it seems as most of us are bad at observing. People tend to focus on the obvious, it’s what’s called ‘unintentional blindness‘ People are limited in what they are able to perceive visually when they are focused on one thing. In addition to the fact that people have a tendency to believe they have great perceptive abilities when in fact they do not.
The become a great observer you must abandon your preconceived notion about the design. Next, form ideas based upon real information, and lastly, find images that stimulate viewers. Looking for unmet needs or better ways of solving a problem. A good example is product packaging.
Step 2 – Reframing
The second step is framing and reframing. People make very different decisions depending on how those decisions are framed. With design thinking, this framing is termed ‘promotion frame’. Understanding a consumer’s motivation for using the product or service is important in developing something that works for the customer (WIIFM).
With a really well-conceived product design, the question is always: are we solving a problem that gives a competitive advantage?
Step 3 – Designing
Step 3 is about imagine and design. This is the most crucial step in the design process. Brainstorming is about building on others’ ideas in a collective manner that avoids criticism. But brainstorming produces very few new ideas. So, in design, you must consider a small ideation group. This means you are going to switch from brainstorming to brainwriting. In brainwriting team members spend a set amount of time writing down as many ideas as they can, before a facilitator gathers them. Research has proven that brainwriting teams generate 2-3x the volume of ideas that brainstorming does and of a higher quality.
Step 4 – Building and Testing
Fail faster – learn sooner. The great designer must understand that failure is simply an expected part of the process. Ability and skill come through practice, not through innate talent. In this final step of actually building and testing the design, not all designs are going to work. The question to be asked in this step is: How Might We? This pushes the designer to persist and create truly honest work. In the end, the designer wants to create something that people find engaging, entertaining, informative.
When you see a beautiful, functioning design it seems so obvious; however, the process to get there is anything but.