Topical Issues

Getting into the design mode.
There’s a design mode that I get into which allows me to rapidly and methodically cut to the chase in getting a set of design prototypes together. What I’m talking about here is in addition to the “User-Centered Design Process” where planning for usability has already been considered. This article really focuses on what I do to get the creative momentum going.

One of my biggest and most rewarding challenges is taking the concept of a client’s vision and turning it into the reality of an interactive user experience. After the interview process I ask myself how can I translate this client’s “agenda” into a message that prospective visitors will get. As the designer this process is a familiar one, which takes me through the journey of creating graphic design, information architecture, brand identity as well as molding the ultimate user experience. Yet regardless how may times I’ve been through the creative process I still reflect on a methodology, a set of guidelines, to insure an inspirational outcome. Here’s an overview of the questions that I ask myself and the steps, which I take to get the juices flowing.

First - Is it simple? I focus on creating a design that makes a poignant message about a business philosophy, an identity, a brand, or a service. Conversely, just because a design can incorporate many of the elements of the client’s intentions, doesn’t mean that those combined ideas should be incorporated into a design scheme. Simplicity trumps complexity every time when it comes to getting a message across.

Second - Is it unique? Make every attempt to be original for each project. Setting the design apart from the pack elevates the creative integrity of the work and places the project into an exclusivity that makes it notable. A singular truth after all is personal, reflective, and makes the design focus on the essence of the project due to an inherent transparency that honesty conveys.

Third - Am I creating a vested interest? Some of my colleagues say that doing great work, especially when it’s tied to a collaborative contribution, manifests their passion for great design. Strive to understand the client’s brand perspective and that comprehension will be reflected in the soul of the design. Become the client’s ambassador when it comes to creative direction. For the design to be well received make the key objective that of basing concepts on metaphors, then drive the concepts with elements of graphic design, nuance, color, spatial relationships, literal motion, pattern, and type.

Fourth - Can I push the creative envelope? Paradoxically, it seems as though the guidelines above might foster a sort of compromise of design creativity. So am I ignoring the reasons that I became a designer in the first place, which is to make an imaginative difference in the world? Actually one of my personal tenets is that I strive to do cutting edge work at every opportunity. To achieve innovation I challenge the ‘rules’ of the design category, I strive to give each concept a life of its own. So, make spontaneous artistic choices based on the notion of looking at the subject matter from a new point of view. Once you’ve got the concept down let it cool off for a day. Completely walk away and return later with a fresh mindset and an open perspective. If you still love it, or can tweak it to make it wonderful, then, and only then, show it to the client with same passion and conviction that it took to make it. Let them understand why it will push their customer’s buttons.

Getting started with any design is a challenge so jump starting the process requires internal motivation and external inspiration. Let a persistent interpretation of the client’s goals drive the visual interpretation and the results will clearly reiterate the message.