Process

THE BRIEF

The first step is to work with the client to get as much information as possible, this is done through a design brief. A design brief ensures that important design issues are considered and questioned, topics in a design brief may vary but a few good starting points are:

  • Company Profile – a summary and brief history of the client’s organization will help the design process
  • Goals – does the client want to generate sales? Encourage enquiries? Simplify the onboarding process? In order for success to be ensured, clear goals must be outlined.
  • Target Market – the age, gender, lifestyle, etc. of those the client wants to reach.

If a client is unable to identify these during a design brief. I help figure out core values that need to be reflected, by doing an exercise with attributes by brainstorming  and writing down as many words or phrases that they would like to reflect. I then narrow down the list to a select few that work the best. These attributes influence my research process as they pull visual examples of other products that will serve as inspiration. This leads me to research phase of a project.

RESEARCH

So after I gather the information provided, I start researching. This often includes looking at competitors to get information about features and their advantages and disadvantages, what they are doing and what they are not doing.

From there, I start scouring the web for inspiration. Based on the brief and my own digestion of the goals, tone and scope of the project, I start collecting anything and everything that evokes the mood of the attributes the design. Sometimes it is even helpful to find out what mood you don’t want to evoke.

I collect photos, design inspiration, color swatches, photographs and typefaces specimens. During this process, I am not looking for things that are pretty, but for bits and pieces that will help me accomplish the project goals.

As I start to collect bits and pieces for the mood board, I start to notice commonalities between the items. I take time to study each example for what works, and why I think it works. Is there a reason that background video is so effective? What qualities made you want to click that button?

Now with a mood board established, a handy tool has been created to use during the design process. It is like a style map that I will continue to refer to ensure the proper values, mood and tone is being evoked.

This moodboard was created for Toast the Cure to establish a baseline that lead to the style guide: color palettes, typography and layout.

DESIGN STRATEGY

The design strategy is how I recommend approaching the project based on the above research. This is the point where the business goals mesh with user needs; it is the roadmap for the visual components that help to build and drive business objectives.

While designing, I focus on implementing personality. If your company, product or website were a person who would it be? The wisecracking friend everyone loves to spend time with? Or that polished friend of yours that seems so trustworthy? These personas are defined from the attributes established in the research process.

I begin this process by rapid prototyping which in turn starts to build the design strategy itself. I will show you where I am going with the design and where I think it should go. From this, I will get an intuitive feel for whether I am headed in the right direction. This rapid prototyping not only helps test progress in a tangible way, it ultimately makes the design more powerful through strategic thinking. It’s a process of trial and error: observe, identify patterns, generate ideas, get feedback, repeat and keep refining until it is ready to go to market.

Kid Things Branding Sarah Overton
Kid Things Branding Sarah Overton

The Kid Things logo was created based on a color palette inspired by attributes from the design brief and images from the moodboard. The client was presented these options to ensure the design was moving in the proper direction and ultimately decided to move forward with a color palette and logo presented during the first iteration. 

Kid Things Logo Sarah Overton

REFINE

As the design strategy continues, so does refining it. This is the time I improve on the design, fix any errors and fine tune the details. Gradually, all the bits and pieces will start to fall into place. By building and refining the strategy early on, it is a chance to uncover problems and fix them in real time, as the strategy continues to unfold.

It is highly beneficial to implement user testing at this time. Receiving feedback from the end user can help solve any obstacles that may have been overlooked from a design perspective. It’s also the job of the client to review the design and provide feedback based on their objectives. This process will continue until the design is approved and ready to launch.

I created rapid prototypes of the chicka-d lookbook using wireframes. Using wireframes effectively communicated the core content elements and visual hiearchy before other design elements such as colors, typefaces, graphics and aesthetic details had been decided upon. This allowed the design to evolve as it was refined. 

LAUNCH

The big day! Once a design is approved, it is ready to be launched and implemented across all deliverables, which may include print and web (depending on the project scope). But once it is launched, the project isn’t over – I am prepared to address feedback and make any changes and adjustments that may be necessary within the project scope.