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The Design Process

Karl Aspelund’s book “The Design Process” is all about creative strategies and exercises to stimulate a designer’s process. The author says,

“Designing is about forming ideas, planning and explaining the execution of those ideas, and making choices based on the evolution of those ideas that will lead to an end result…

A designer’s work is concerned primarily with solving problems by developing and explaining ideas. The “look” of a product is just one of many possible problems. The design process, regardless of discipline, has seven basic stages: inspiration, identification, conceptualization, exploration/refinement, definition/modeling, communication, and production.   If you’re doing a lot of your website’s design work or want a strategy for your daily creative needs, try working your way through these steps. These stages are not necessarily linear (and are severely shortened here) but going through the process can help produce a tangible design. Create a sketchbook, journal or something to record your ideas.

Inspiration is a tool or idea to explore. Research and actively seeking out inspiration will help further designs and ideas. For the sake of a website, ideas could start with a list of words that relate to your business, products, services or current site. What do those words “look” like to you? Take some photos of inspirational things in your world.

Identification involves identifying and dealing with constraints. What are the main problems you face and how do you work within your constraints? Do you need help with the visual design, viewer opinions, a professional web designer or are your constraints budget-related? Figure out who you need to contact for help, things to learn, budgeting plans and a list of things to do.

Conceptualization happens after design problems have been identified and involves coming up with plans to solve the problems. This means you are taking an abstract design concepts and making it tangible, real, and ready to be seen. This is where you begin to test and execute your ideas.  A sitemap or basic layout design would be started here.

Exploration and Refinement will help make your design choices clearer. Every design choice affects your site and work, but there is always room for testing and pushing the boundaries to see where your design might lead.  From colors to graphic design to layout, web design is such a wonderful media to play around with, so this phase can take additional time.

Definition and Modeling in website design can be thought of as the test site. Get it up see what people think. Focus on people within your target market and beyond, but also see what people from different generations think.

Communication is a multifaceted aspect when design and websites are concerned. First, your site should thoroughly communicate details, keys aspects and key content words. With design, communication reviews what is being communicated to whom, how, and why. Who is your target audience, how do they perceive your business/product, why should they want your product or services and why did you choose your design choices? If you can do this with content and visuals, your website is on the right path.

Production phase involves handling all of the final decisions, feedback and knowledge into the final piece or website.

Which phase do you find to be the most challenging? What’s the easiest?