We partner with people and businesses to work through a variety of design challenges. Although the details and deliverables differ from project to project, the following represent tools for arriving in the right place at the right time:
Conduct Stakeholder Interviews
Talking with the decision-makers in the project and figuring out their facet of the business is going to be affected helps uncover requirements and aids in buy-in at a later date. It’s also a great way to gain an understanding of who knows what and why it’s important.
Analyze the Business
Taking a keen look at a business and its strategies informs business requirements and sets benchmarks for determining if a project is successful. With benchmarks, it’s hard to know whether or not the needle has been moved and whether or not overall goals are being met. It gives me insight into who the business customers are, who they should be and where we are headed together.
Facilitate Design Sprints
Good ideas come from all over, not just from “the creatives”. It’s important to have discussions with developers, writers, sales staff… you get the idea. Working as a team is critical to success and there’s no better way to engage a team than from the beginning. The outcome from design facilitation sessions is a greater understanding of business requirements, technical requirements or limitations, security risks and you get all that information from the people who know the most about a particular topic. With a Design Sprint, the specific goal is to have a tested prototype of a product or feature by the end of a 5 day timebox. That’s right, 5 days, not 5 weeks.
Gather Business Requirements
Discovering and defining the must-have results and features are key to any sort of design project. Setting goals and restraints are the foundation from which a successful project is built.=
Understanding who the project is inevitably for sets the context for the size, shape and purpose of the project. Who the people are, what they do, how they feel… all important aspects when designing things for human consumption.
Brainstorm. Whiteboard. Sketch.
In other words, capturing fleeting ideas and turning them into something tangible is how we as a team start to find our groove. Everyone has ideas and it’s part of my job to help uncover them, then determine if the idea is worth exploring further or not.
Perhaps one of my favorite activities is figuring out what the pieces of the puzzle are, how they relate to one another and what they are called. The information architecture is revealed in a simple and easy to comprehend navigation- a must for any digital product! Visualizing how the pieces fit lead to better discussions with stakeholders, clients and customers alike resulting in better results in the end.
There’s one way to figure out what part of an idea resonates with people – make a prototype. There are a wide range of tools in this chest, from low fidelity sketches and paste-up jobs to high fidelity working-code prototypes. Each has its place and will yield its own results. There’s nothing quite like testing mobile app ideas on an actual phone!
Going hand-in-hand with any creative process, testing ideas with real people (see User Research above) to see if they make sense is one of the best ways to see if an idea is worthy of refinement or if it’s back to the drawing board.
Creating a black an white rendering of an idea helps us evaluate relationships between elements, what elements need to be present (or NOT) without getting all caught up in whether or not the red is the right red or the typeface is easy to read. Often considered a medium fidelity prototyping tool, wireframing is a wonderful tool to make quick iterations on an idea without getting caught up in the fine details.
Consider these more like paintings of ideas, representing emotional and visual concepts, incorporating color schemes, type choices and photography. How the project is going to look and what emotions it evokes are crucial to the success of any project.
Whether it’s a digital development product or a company brand, it’s important to understand what the pieces re and how they work together. A style Guide can take many forms but it has one goal in mind- communicating the details of a design for production or implementation.