As designers, we are taught to follow the design process in order to find solutions to complex challenges. However,this process seems to be described in many diverse ways.
In this post I collected a few approaches taken to describe the design process. My aim is to better understand the emphasis and variety of angles taken in describing what may essentially be the same process. Hopefully, this will also allow me to offer an alternative way to describe the process.
#1. The Iterative “Step by Step” models
These models represent a set of actions to be followed sequentially, and suggest that the process is continues – when you reach a solution, you can probably make it better by following the process again. It is interesting to note the different actions the models highlight in the process:
#2. Stepping back
The following models introduce are simmilar to the first group, however, they add arrows going back as well as arrows going forward. This implies that the steps are introduced sequentially, however, are revisited and refined throughout the process.
#3 The design process as more complex interactions between activities
As described so nicely by Typographic Design – Form and communication (fourth edition): “…perhaps it is more helpful to think of the process as five fields of activity that overlap each other in a multidimensional environment of intellectual discourse. The process is not linear; rather, it is one of interaction and ambiguity where paths appear to meander aimlessly towards durable and innovative solutions.”
“A holistic approach to design requires attention to all three areas during every phase of the project. If we spend too much effort in any single area, we put our potential for success at risk.” – UX Magazine
#4. Partial iteration
Some models describe the prototype section as an iterative part of a linear process.
#5 Re-framing the process
#6 Highlighting user-feedback
#7 Using the term ‘design’ to express only a part of the process
In some cases, the term ‘design’ does not capture the whole process but rather refers to parts of it.
After exploring some of the different attitudes towards communicating the design process, I share Benton Barnett’s notion that describing the process in boxes may be a bit far from reality:
However, I’m not giving up on trying to find a way to communicate the process in a way that would be meaningful to me and will hopefully make sense to others.
* What is your design process? Did you identify different attitudes towards describing the design process? Please add your comments or send me a message so we could continue the conversation. Thanks!