Inside the Design Mind
Designers are a rare breed. They see the world in ways that most of us could never hope to understand. And it is exactly that unique perspective that makes them so valuable to your business and your product. Their ability to understand consumer emotions to maximise user experience, is unparalleled.
If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that so many of the most successful start-ups in recent years have been founded by designers. The likes of Airbnb, Kickstarter and Pinterest are the product of designers taking user experience into their own hands with their own company.
So, what makes them tick? What makes the design thinking process such a crucial stage of product development? Why do we rely so heavily on designers rather than say marketers? And where exactly is the design world heading in the next few years? To find out, we spoke to a few of our designer friends including our own in-house visual communicator, Darren.
What Does the Client Want?
The biggest misconception that Darren highlighted for us, was that designers don’t really need to have their own specific style. Sure, some do. And they attract clients because of that style. But the true strength of a designer, is their ability to adapt their style to fit the needs of the client as closely as possible. In fact, we’ve found that designers with a distinct style, often have much more trouble giving the client exactly what they want.
Naturally it depends on the client. Some will approach a designer with a clear idea of what they want, others will ask for more input from the designer. But either way, it always comes down to giving them exactly what they want. Personal style goes out the window when we’re talking about graphic and product design for clients.
Approaching the Puzzle
So, you bring in a designer to develop your product concept, what exactly will they do? Well first of all, it’s important to note that the earlier you bring them on, the more effective they can be. Too many businesses engage a designer way too late, when they’ve already settled on the product and are just hoping to add some style to it. That severely limits your designer’s ability to work their magic.If they are given the opportunity to fully flush out their design process, they’ll likely be utilising one of the many design ideation methods that exist.
For Darren, he focuses on the Double Diamond Method. The process has four key phases; Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver. During the phases of Discovery and Development, the focus is on convergent thinking. The designer seeks to explore all of the possible approaches and ideas. The Discovery phase is all about exploring the problem and its factors, whereas the Development stage is more focused on exploring possible solutions to the problem.
In comparison, the Define and Deliver stages seek to narrow down the problem and solutions with convergent thinking. Hence the diamond, as you see in the diagram. The process aims to expand the designers thinking, then reduce it to specifics, twice over, to find the optimal solution to the problems that you, the client, has identified.
Or maybe you designer likes to use the Helix Method or the Pinball Machine. Each are effective in their own right. The Helix Method utilises both linear and spiral design thinking to evaluate problems. Whereas the Pinball Machine method is much more unstructured, where the process bounces around 10 different stages like a pinball in the machine.
At the end of the day, each process has a common theme; it’s all about finding a problem, defining the problem and finding the way to solve that problem. You may need to reiterate that last step a few times until you find an effective solution. There’s a tonne of different ways to go about that process at each step. Yet each process will effectively to identify an abstract concept or idea, and make it concrete.
That’s much more difficult than you might think. The lateral thinking that goes into problem solving is far beyond the abilities of many of us. You need the knowhow to understand what exactly to look for in terms of qualitative and quantitative data. Then be able to approach a problem from every single angle and to decide on which approach is the most effective at solving the problem. Trust us, designers are worth their weight in gold when they’re given the opportunity to problem solve in the product design stage.
Where Is Design Heading?
When asked about the future of product and graphic design, Darren’s first instinct was to suggest virtual reality. And it surely is an incredible opportunity for designers in every field. As it currently stands, designers must use 2D and 3D software to depict their concepts as accurately to clients. With virtual reality, they can take the process one step further to give clients a real feel for the concepts they’re pitching. If a designer can pull it off, it would create an unrivalled advantage against their competitors.
And it’s not too far off either. New smartphones now have the capacity to keep up with virtual reality software, and for just $2 you can buy the Google Cardboard which allows you to immerse yourself in the software.
The challenge for designers then, is to keep up with the rapid development of new software and hardware. Innovation continues to shake up the industry constantly. It’s an insanely exciting time to be in the business of design. But with that, comes the pressure to adopt new technologies and keep up with the market. Learning new design programs can be incredibly challenging for even the most experienced designers. But to be on the leading edge of design, it simply needs to be done.
Why Should You Care?
So how does this affect you? Why should you bother bringing in a designer when things are going pretty well as they are? Well as it turns out, there’s a tonne of good that a strong designer can do for your brand and your business. Whether they assist in new product development or redevelopment, or take over the graphic design duties, a strong designer can put you well ahead of the competition.
As consumers, we gravitate towards brands and companies that we feel a connection with. Designers understand this. They think in terms of people and their emotional state; their quirks and idiosyncrasies. We so often lose sight of our consumers in business. We get so caught up in business operations that we forget how crucial it is that we create something that consumers can connect with.But the designer doesn’t forget that.
The designer has the user experience at the forefront of their thinking. As a result, a strong designer is so incredibly effective at tapping into the design process to develop concepts that most accurately satisfy the consumer needs and desires. And that’s what will set you apart from your competitors. #design #productdesign #graphicdesign #UX #UXdesign