Exploration & Discovery.

Why does Design take so long?

How we will work together to solve your Business problems:

How can Design Thinking help you solve a business problem?  Design is equally about people and brands.  Good Design is almost invisible while Bad Design is easily seen and it troubles people, it results in a negative User Experience and it causes damage to your brand.  The Design Thinking Process, and Designers are in a way a system of translation between people and business.  People speak one language; Businesses speak a different one. They are similar but different in many ways.  This is where Designers come into the process.  Designers are trained to understand both sides of this conversation and then to sculpt a solution that answers the wants and needs of both sides of this conversation.  

One of the fun things about Design and Design Thinking is that there are no exact correct or incorrect answers. While two creative projects might be similar, the process of how they were completed can be (and usually is) very different.  Crafting a User Experience for a project is about the personality of the teams who build it and the people that consume it.  What follows is just a version of how a Design Thinking Process can be completed.  Most of the time it is close to how I like to do the process and it is a general guideline of how I will be working with you on your creative project.

Image showing Empathy

Step 1: Understanding 
(the door to learning and opportunities!)

I will connect with you to organize the situation and to gather all the parts that make up the problems that you are trying to develop a solution for.  This will mean there will be a lot of questions.  Questions about your company, your products or services, and the goals that you are hoping to achieve.  Then we will talk about your Users (consumers).  We will discuss how well you know them and what all you can tell me about them and then make a list of all the things that we can find that we do not know (yet).

There will probably be questions asked that you do not know the answer to, so we will have to research how to go about finding the answer.  Most of the time this means having a conversation with people that use your products so that we can learn how (or what they think). This is the time and place to put your learning hat on and to skip wanting to make assumptions about them.  You are not your Users, so this means you might be missing out on some important details of how they view your business, and your products. And more importantly why they might not be buying from you.

Step 2: Defining 
all the parts.
(yes even that part too)

Now that we have started the process of understanding things we will be working on; we need to start to define some of the details of the project a little bit better.  This will help us to try and focus the energy spent on the project in the best direction we can.   Here we will define the problem as clearly as possible (at this moment in time).  This could be adjusted later after more discoveries are made.  We will also start to define who the Users are and some of what their details might be.  We will do this to make sure we have as clear of an understanding of them as possible.  Now, if we find that we do not have enough information to make this step as completely as we can (for now) we can (and probably will) go back to Step 1 and gather some additional information that we might have missed.

A person trying to define something

Step 3: The first 
rounds of ideas! 
(Paper, pencils and sticky notes and a few tests)

Now that we have a good Understanding and have Defined a good amount of the details, we can start to explore the first round of ideas.  Here, there are no good or bad ideas, just ideas, we do not know where one thought might transition into another one.  An idea that might not fit in one spot now might be a great fit for a different spot later, so we sketch it out with enough details so that we can get back to it.   This is the part of the process where we use a lot of simple tools, paper, and pencils (most of the time) and depending on the project a lot of sticky notes. 

In most cases we will start by building a shopping list of what needs to be accomplished. It’s a good idea to keep the process of brain storming (or ideation) as free as possible, but it also helps to have some organization so that we don’t waste any energy going off on a tangent that is unproductive (at least at some level).   All the details might not need to be completely worked out but it’s a good idea to have a solid foundation so that we can start to check our work with your User base.  Something that can happen at this stage, is we will fill in the details in our minds but forget to put them down on paper, meaning they can get missed and your Users will not get to see them.  So, something that is clear and easy to us can be confusing to your Users (and possibly meaning they will not buy from you). 

When we have a good grasp on our idea and believe that we are headed in a good direction we will ask for feedback from a small group of Users to make sure we have all the parts in the correct place.  Testing with people now will let the Creative Team know if they are ready to take the next steps or if they need to circle back and adjust.  Sometimes the team will need to make big adjustments (and possibly discoveries) and sometimes only little ones are needed.   Its better (i.e. less expensive) to change things early in the process than later. 

Step 4 Prototyping: 
Now to Build it 
(at least the first version)

You have completed the Understanding, the Defining and the First Ideas of your project and you are feeling good about the idea and how everything is progressing.  So now what?  Well its time to build the first version and make it as complete as you possibly can.  This is called a Prototype!  There will be issues that are found and needed to be addressed.  You will find more questions that you did not know to ask and need to research things that you never really considered.  This is still a phase of discovery.  In this phase you will end up with about a 90% complete project.  The shape, colors, the content, the core idea should all be there and all looking rather nice and shiny. 

The thing is as you are building this one you will discover something, and idea pops up, a problem that has been bugging you for the entire project so far finally shows you an quick answer (and then you wonder why you did not think of it sooner).  You make notes, you track details, and you keep discovering new ideas.  You might do a touch of refinements but only little ones here.  You complete it as much as you can and get it ready.

Ready for what you ask?

Step 5 To test your ideas 
(and get feedback)!

Now comes the hard part, but an especially important part.  Testing your ideas.  The team pours your energy and passion into the project to make it as strong as possible because it will represent your brand, your team, and a great deal of time.  It also must help the Users who will be consuming it.  It must answer a need or a problem that they are dealing with.  It was built to make their lives easier, better, happier.  Now to see just how close you came to achieve those goals.

Testing your design project can be done in a range of ways and is done multiple times through out the process.  It is a tool to help guide the team to keep them on track making sure that you are answering not just the businesses needs but those of who are consuming it.  You are making sure that you are building the User Experience that they want. 

Testing is about looking for feedback, both the good and the bad.  You are in a stage of refinement but also a touch of discovery at the same time. You can discover additional ideas that will cause you to go back into the process and adjust.  You will find the odd little things that you thought you covered (but somehow missed), you can find out that your team and ideas were on target all along.  At some point you make the decision that this version is completed and is ready to head out into the world.  It will represent your team, and your brand and it will help to shape what others think and feel about what you have accomplished. 

Then, after a while, you discover more and then start the whole process over again.  Creativity is a linear process that follows many circles.

A curvy path to a helpful possibility!

As you can see, the design process (design thinking) is not totally a straight line.  It is more like the growth of an idea that has many different decisions and revisions along the way. Most projects will travel some version of this process, from building a Brand Mark, a Print Solution, or even a Website.

Creative teams will go back and forth repeating several of the steps, sometimes more than once.   The life of your project can be short or exceptionally long and the people who use your design project will change for a lot of different reasons.  This series of changes will influence the way you build your creative projects, it will guide you from time to time and help you make decisions. 

In the end a Creative Project is about building and guiding the User Experience that your consumers travel to make them remember and enjoy your brand.   Berchak Design is looking forward to connecting and helping you travel this process.

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