“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” —Charles Eames
During the design phase of a project, our job is to be as curious as possible. The important part of that process is to ask the right questions. We want to ask unique questions that provide unique answers. If we stick with generic
questions, we will uncover very typical needs.
Most situations have similar, recognizable needs. When designing websites or apps we commonly need to provide a more user-friendly experience with clear, concise information. We could stop and provide a solution
at this point, but the design will be quite similar for every project. We could skip the questions and tell you want you need. However, if we did that we would not be doing our job and the outcome
would not be nearly as successful.
Questions that provide the most valuable insights are the ones that get below the surface. These important questions arise through conversation. We start with the surface level questions and then we see where the conversation goes –
probing thoughtfully as we go. This process does need to be cost effective and sometimes we have follow-up questions to help us add detail when we are compiling our notes.
The output of this process is a formal Design Brief document. This report summarizes what you told us and it highlights the insights we uncovered. The Design Brief helps frame the entire project, not just the design phase. Because
it serves a very foundational purpose, you can appreciate that this deliverable is an important one for your team to review carefully.
Preparing for the Design Brief conversation is important, but we also like thoughts to flow naturally. Coming into the conversation with prepared answers is not the best use of your time, but it does help to start thinking about the areas
we will want to explore. To that end, you can anticipate a conversation that gets into the following topics:
Your business and your competitors
Your existing website: its virtues and pitfalls
You and your opinions on design
Target audiences for your business
Features and benefits for your products or services
Effectiveness of other marketing activities
We will also collect some of your existing brand and marketing collateral (i.e. logo, brochures, campaign links, social account info), as well as any other details you feel are relevant.
We move on to producing mock-ups and design concepts once you approve the Design Brief. Our design team starts the creative process as soon as we start working together, but with the Design Brief completed that effort accelerates. Other
activities also follow the Design Brief. This post outlines our entire Momentum Building Process.