Each designer has, or should have a design process in place. This process is in the most part unique to each individual designer, tailored to his or her style of work, refined through many years of design practice.
The design process is a series of steps that the professional designer must go through during a logo, a print or a web design project. This ensures that the end result meets the needs and the goals of the client.
Before designing anything, either a logo or a website, we must establish the goals of the project and the content that we are working with. The ultimate job of the designer is to figure out how to shape the provided content in such a way that, in the end, that content will work towards meeting the initial goals.
“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”
The job of any true design professional is to find out through a preliminary discussion with the client, what are the goals of the project and what content can the client provide at the starting stage.
1. First design phase: Discovery
At first, each new project is like a newly discovered territory. We don’t know much information about it, so we need to dig in as much as possible. This is when I ask most of the question and try to find out as much as possible about the subject.
2. Second design phase: Exploration
Armed with all the knowledge I could possibly gather prior to setting foot on this new island, I begin the exploration phase. Now it’s time for pencil and paper phase, for doodling and low resolution wireframing. I will try to explore every possible direction I could use.
3. Third design phase: Settlement
After the Exploration Phase, we need to choose now what is the most effective direction to follow. Some designers argue that it is solely the designer’s job as a professional to make that choice, while others might say that the client is responsible to choose the right concept to go with. My belief is that the responsibility is somehow shared between the two, so the client has the right to make a choice but in the same time, take into consideration the designer’s expert advice.
4. Fourth design phase: Refinement
Once we have the basic concept, we can continue on that direction. I will work on refining the shapes, adding colors, textures, highlights or shadows, where those are needed. We must keep the design principles in mind and also know that aesthetics is also important. Here is a point where many designers fail to keep in mind that every decision must be based on reaching the project goals, and not just making things look trendy or pretty. It’s not bad to embrace a trend when it really suits your goal, but it’s not that helpful if you make a design decision that doesn’t resonate with your audience, for example.
At each stage of the process, we must ask ourselves how everything works towards meeting our project goals.