Saturday, May 9, 2015

Starting a design project: my work flow

Every design project starts with a story, it’s all about expressing that story in pixels. Great design is not only about making good looking things, but more about understanding and delivering the needs.

I believe in the philosophy of planning and thinking well before starting. Being prepared for the project helps in understanding the needs and the user experience part of the design. Thinking and planning before starting is good, but you need a break point, because no matter how much you plan, you can always plan more.
My Design Process: Paritosh

You need to be sure about the time you can spend on just the abstract part of the design, without doing anything. So here is a simple flow I use, to balance between over planning and getting started.

Plan and Sketch

Before starting with the pixels grab a sheet of paper, pen, pencil or whatever tools you like and start thinking. Think and sketch out the UI elements that you need in the final design and place them on the page. This is just the rough representation, after your first take on the needs. Through this thinking you will be able to understand the main goals of the design and how to effectively represent it. Once you have everything in place, put the hat of a user and start to dig a little bit on the usability part of the design.

Start

Now you are good to go with the next phase of starting with something. Create a new blank file and save it. The first thing is to just turn those sketches into pixels. Don’t think about it working out or not, this is just a start and not the final design. The design might not look good, but you have something to show. Something is always better than nothing.

Look for Inspiration

Great ideas are inspired by other great ideas. Don't waste your time thinking about the things that someone has already done. If you are looking for an innovative solution for a UI section, search the web and look for things that have already been done. Maybe what you were thinking was already done, or there is a better option or yours is the best. In any case, you will come up with the best solution for the problem. If it’s already done, you are saving your brain fuel and can use it for thinking of other ideas.

Mental Block

This is the most interesting phase of a design process if you are focused on pushing your limits and just not satisfied with the good. This is where you get into the phase of self doubt, feel you are not good enough and you are not satisfied with what you have done so far. You are stuck and not able to progress further, no matter what you do, there is no way out. Get away from the project, clear your head and walk away from the problem for some time, this is one of the solutions I use. This is the phase which wastes a lot of time in the process but with time you will learn the art of productively managing that time and shortening the time span between the block and breakthrough.

The Idea and Iteration

Suddenly everything falls into place and the solution to the problem starts looking obvious. After the block of ideas and no direction to go, now you start to look at a lot of possibilities and everything looks simple and easy. You iterate a little bit on the design and finally come up with something great, with a great User Experience and a great story to share.

Feedback

This is the make or break situation in every design. Your design is there, it still looks and feels awesome, but now the story is modified a little bit. Sometimes the feedbacks are subtle and sometimes they just change the meaning of the story. Everyone has a different taste in design and it’s very difficult to keep everyone happy. If you get the unhappy bunch giving you feedback, it gets difficult to convey the story. You have done a great job so far and now it’s all about letting go. Switch your mind for the next great thing and work on the feedbacks as they come.


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