ProcessHow I do

Massimo Vignelli said, “It’s not important to develop your own style but your own approach.” I approach design first with my ears. Designers are listeners. We are translators. I find that a designer’s ability to listen well and translate a stated need into a real result is often the singular diferentiator between a good designer and a great designer.

STEP 1 : Research

“Research is about engaging in a conversation with a brand.” Mathhew Rhodes

Research can take so many different forms. Card sorting exercises can lead to insights about how people order a particular experience. Using heat mapping tools can tell you a lot about how and where people are lingering on a page. Google analytics can give you raw numbers to gnaw on and worry over.

The tools themselves have to be utilized properly to yield results. Successful design cannot be ruled by numbers, user studies or target hit rates. Like most things research has to be balanced. Numbers without insights are meaningless. However, when thoughtfully implemented, research tools and techniques can inform incredibly meaningful incremental design change and innovation.


STEP 2 : Ideate

“Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.” Jim Rohn

This part can be painful because I look for solutions all over the place trying to find the one right idea that will make the visual sum of parts. The first spark of an idea can start anywhere. It's usually about visual relationships for me. It's a discovery of something unique. I love the possibility of solving a problem in a way that innovates and pushes boundaries. The beginning is always a wonderful possibility.

The only requirement I make for myself or any designer that I work with during this phase is that we start the ideation process with sketches. Posibilities thrive outside of our digital world. It's an important tool in the ideation process that helps us think differently and more freely.


STEP 3 : Prototype

“The design process is about designing and prototyping and making. When you separate those, I think the final result suffers.” Johnathan Ive

The lightbulb wasn’t made in one try. It took Edison several thousand tries to find a filament for his bulb that worked. During this phase there will be failures. It is far better to fail fast and fail often and to help teams see the value of the lessons learned in new and better iterations.

Skipping prototyping and going right into building compounds the avenues for catastrophic failure. I think all phases of the design process are important. But, prototyping is often the “red light or green light” for a feature, product or app. It’s a critical step to the success of any project.


STEP 4 : Repeat

“No design can exist in isolation. It is always related, sometimes in very complex ways, to an entire constellation of influencing situations and attitudes.” George Nelson

You can’t scale if you can’t build repeatable process. Being able to build upon what you’ve made to improve its functionality over time is a fundamental part of creating a great product.

What would have happened if Henry Ford had decided that the Model A was good enough? Well, we never would have gotten the Model T, and then the Model A again. If Ford and others just decided car design had gone far enough, we’d all still be cranking our cars to life with a hand crank every time we wanted to go somewhere. Repeating and building upon tride and true ideas is at the center of innovative thinking. Good design doesn’t end at a beautifully crafted experience and visual design. That is where great design begins.


About Me

I love an impossible challenge. The harder the problem, the more I and the teams I build and lead lean in. What’s your design challenge?

Let’s make something together.

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