This is an overall framework for how we approach design problems:
Frame the problem
What are we trying to solve and why? Is this even a problem? Most often, our clients need help with a particular issue. They know that their customers get lost when trying to order on their online shop. Or they’re looking to build a new feature for their mobile app, for example a feature that lets users create an account user through their social media account. In this phase, we ask questions and listen. This step is usually led by a strategist, but designers will often weigh in. This is when we frame the problem.
In this second step, we come up with potential solutions to the problem. In some cases, we might realize that this is not a problem at all. It’s difficult to cover all the scenarios we can think of in the form of a simple bullet point item but there can be lots of problems out there that we might have to deal with. Once we’ve defined that problem clearly and agreed that we’re going to solve it, we will begin to think of various solutions. This step is very nebulous in the sense that the brainstorming process can be very hazy. We create sketches, we research other solutions that solved similar problems, etc. The more ideas we can come up with, the easier it is for the strategist and/or client to make a decision on the next step.
Once everyone’s agreed on idea, a designer makes it come to life. In this step, the designer takes abstract concept and turns it into a tangible solution. This usually happens through creating a wireframe or a prototype of the idea that is then presented to the client. For example, the clients wants us to improve the experience of their online shopping cart. The designer (often in collaboration with a strategist) will create a few wireframes and in some cases a prototype of the screens needed to improve the experience of using the shopping cart online. Ideally, this prototype is tested with a few test users to ensure it is optimally usable and accessible. This step might take a few iterations. The final wireframes might be completely different than their first version, but that’s because the design process is often exploratory. Designers often make a lot of assumptions and test them along the way in order to come close to an ideal solution. Their deliverables need to be approved by the account strategist and by the client. Throughout this entire step, we recommend involving the developers often, as their inputs will be useful in defining the concept to follow.
Once the client have given us green light 🟢 on one of our ideas, we build further on it and get it as close as possible to a “final” solution. Of course that is subjective and no design we create is ever really final. Our designs are built to change and evolve over time. We do our best at that time of the creation but we’re cognizant of the challenging constraint that is represented by time. We will often have to go back and improve the designs based on new technological or sociological developments. This step often involves a visual design part where a product is given a visual identity of its own or an already existing one is applied. In the case of a website, this is where the wireframes turn into colorful page designs, placeholder text is replaced by actual copy and where we’ll be exploring various visual treatments. As in the previous step, the work needs to be approved by the account strategist and the client. Also in this step, we recommend involving the developers often, as their inputs will be useful in defining the concept to follow.
Once the stars align and the client is happy with our deliverable, the designers need to ensure that the designs are ready to be built. In the case of a website, the pages/screens that the designers have envisioned will be made ready for the developers to implement them. The design and development teams will normally collaborate throughout this entire step. The designers will make design tweaks and assist the developers in order to ensure that the implementation matches their concept.
Measure and learn
Once the product launches, we will monitor it to make sure it remains as performant as possible. The designer will continue to be involved in any future build iterations.