* Original post from mid 2013 *
Design is a relational tool, used to communicate our respect for the end-user and to manipulate human behavior. To think, I design. The best part about being a designer is having the ability to allow others to see what I see and collaborate on effective solutions at the human scale. Here are pieces of my design process that I have found invaluable and want to share with you.
When you start a design project, usually your first ideas are your best ideas.
But, you won’t figure that out until you’ve circled around at least ten other concepts. Designers are born with a strong intuition for brand sentiment, but start with the big picture before being able to streamline the resonate details. Carry around a small notebook and pen everywhere and use doodle time to sketch quarter-sized brand marks. Sometimes the best ideas come when you’re least expecting it.
Map your constraints.
The beginning of a project is easily the best time to get yourself acquainted with your future hurdles. What is the type and size of audience you are designing for, and how much time do you have to create something magical? Be realistic, but dream about all possibilities.
Print it out, pin it up, and draw at least 100 thumbnail sketches of concepts with a pen or pencil.
The first thing that a designer must do when presented with a new project is to curate a mood board of images, textures, samples, and concepts that can guide your project. From there, print every single thing out and hang it up on a wall in front of you. Knoll your inspiration into categories, stand back, and synthesize the early stages of your brand.
Play with design styles. Learn useful vector tricks and tips, but avoid following trends in your industry, especially if it’s an emerging market. Developing a brand for yourself and your company are two different things. The beauty of being in a start-up is being able to have a lot of input on the form of the brand.
Your brand is an umbrella of your understanding of the product.
As a designer, you feel out the emotions and desires of your audience, and your brand is a tangible expression of that understanding. In order to give your product the ability to scale and grow, you must look to your customer for the answers. Just remember, Reddit can be your best friend and your worst enemy when it comes to how the public perceives your product. To grow your brand identity, ask yourself: What are the reasons that your community wants to be involved?
Live with your design before you decide to go any farther with it.
When I develop a brand, product, or graphic design, I like to carry it with me somehow everywhere I go. Showing my brand to a diverse group of friends is a great testing ground for the world.
Never take criticism personally.
Your design is not you. Once you create it, you are donating it to your customers. Everyone is an undiscovered designer, so listen before reacting to new ideas. My favorite thing to do is develop 3-5 versions of an idea and walk around with my computer asking, “what do you think”?
Think Big, Print Huge
What’s your design process? Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.