One of the most burning questions in design is “What’s the most important phase of the design process?”
Since design is so broad and can cover many different industries, from creating a mobile app interface to a complete company rebranding, it may appear that this question cannot be answered for each and every project.
It’s actually quite a simple one word answer; Define! Ultimately a project, task or job is a problem which you need to efficiently and effectively solve. And what’s the best way to solve any problem? To ensure that you properly understand the problem at hand. Only then can you figure out how to effectively produce a solution which efficiently resolves the needs of the required users.
While this article is tailored for web design, Define is the first step for any project.
There are 4 main areas to cover in project definition:
It is fundamental to define the client before anything else. Simple questions like ‘Who are they?’, ‘What do they do?’ and most importantly ‘What are their brand values?’ Once you know the client, then you can have a better understanding of how the design solution needs to be tailored to their business needs.
What needs to be created? What does the design solution need to achieve. What is the problem and proposed solution? This is what you need to know to effectively design the client’s desired solution.
Who is going to use the design solution? This is the perfect opportunity for you to ask as many questions as you need so that you are able to put yourself into the users shoes. This is the best way to internally test if the design meets the projects needs.
Asking about competitors and other websites is the perfect way to conclude project definition. It’s a quick and easy way to see what they like and dislike, what their design preferences are and also gives you, the designer, an opportunity to explain how these preferences relate to the intended audience and project goals.
Once you discover the answer to these questions, you can step into the shoes of the user to begin creating user flow diagrams and wireframes of the design solution
Knowing the answer to these questions is also very useful if you are the client in these projects. Anyone can make something look pretty. So don’t be distracted by the images and colours, and look through the aesthetics.
How does the proposed solution function?
Does it resolve the needs of your business and your users?
Something that looks nice is Art. Design is a science.
Every element on every page should be the way it is for a reason. And this reason should be part of the answer to solving the problem at hand.