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This chapter is from the book

The Design Method Works

You may disagree with the approach presented in this book. That’s OK, and you probably aren’t alone. I’ve talked about the same ideas with some who passionately tell me that this approach is too dogmatic and simply can’t work. But because I’ve approached design in various ways over the years, I can honestly tell you how well a singular, knowledge-led, systems-based approach works. This method allows you to pinpoint the direction you need to take your client, identify the sequence in which you produce items, and outline a way to replicate these steps on future projects.

Clarity is a rare treat in an industry in which each project is so different from the next. By establishing one trajectory, you can concentrate on what you need to achieve; therefore, you are better equipped to make workable design. The Design Method forces you to ask good questions at appropriate times. When you adhere to this approach, a set of checks and balances emerges, and helps focus your efforts on the items and considerations that matter most.

An additional benefit of implementing The Design Method is that your business can gain operational efficiencies. Following this method allows you to better organize resources and staff. It enables you to create standardized documentation and repurpose these templates. Additionally, you’ll begin to realize a natural project flow by adopting these organized steps. Not only do you need to create effective design, you need to produce work in an ordered and predictable fashion. Part of this cogent approach involves presenting your reasoning to clients in a manner that’s clear, accurate, and organized.

Providing personalized guidance and clear documentation to your clients affords them a more pleasant and consistent experience—don’t underestimate the importance of this level of service! You can make the greatest design and still fail if your clients feel ignored, poorly supported, or don’t understand what you’re proposing. Consider the customer experience your clients receive when they work with you. Many designers fail to do so and think the design product is the only part that matters. The way your customers feel about their time with you is pivotal in ensuring your studio’s economic viability and survival.

Each time you run the process, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, retool your steps and refine your working methods, and improve the output of your work. This continual refinement will strengthen your studio and the relationships of those working within it. Finding ways to make better design and communication is what this process is all about.

Additionally, The Design Method is so darned sensible that once you fully implement it, you won’t be able to revert to your old ways of working. Designers bring order to the projects they’re tasked with and the people they help, but many mistakenly believe they can achieve such order through slipshod practices and a lack of process. You know better. And by applying this kind of rigor in your process and actions, you become part of the maturation of design from a pursuit confused for being solely about decoration to one prized for its practitioners’ ability to resolve complex problems in many different settings.

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