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visualization of the design process ↓

 

design process

Too often the simplicity of the humble pencil and paper is forgotten in our modern digital age and yet it continues to wield so much power as a design tool. Even if you can't draw you can sketch. Sketching is the first step in translating an internal abstract thought process into an external concrete expression that can be used as a common starting point for communication, critique, collaboration and refinement.

Keeping the experience tactile allows for a deeper type of sketching. This phase considers multiple malleable concepts that allow the shape of the narrative to expand when appropriate and atrophy where necessary in order that the entire system as an experience can develop and mature into its most essential and compelling form. This can take many forms. Paper prototyping is an inexpensive and highly accessible method because of its familiar and unintimidating nature. We all know how cut tear and arrange, and secretly it forces us to refine our understanding of the subject far deeper and with less effort because it feels like play.

Whether designing top-down or bottom-up it is the responsibility of every designer to understand what purpose the system serves the potential human being on the other side of the interface. Extensive investigation and iteration are required in order to be able to competently construct (and deconstruct) a problem in order to solve it in the most effective and remarkable way possible. Yes, it is important for the experience to be remarkable.

Breaking down the system 'frame' by 'frame' is the only way to take a step back and understand each of the elements at a bird's eye view. These are the "blueprints" of the system and communicate layout templates and fundamental interface elements across all of the disciplines involved: business stakeholders, project managers, developers, artists and designers. This way everyone is on the same page and can break away into their respective roles to create prototypes and working models of the system with confidence that their distributed efforts are contributing to the same final product.

When attempting to understand how an application will behave, it helps to break out specific tasks and walk through them step-by-step. This type of system storyboarding keeps the experience's narrative vital and concrete during the planning stages. Before a single line of code is written it is plausible to understand exactly how the task flow will unfold allowing for critical review, comment, and refinement.

In the final stages of the design process a system's personality becomes visually evident. This is a culmination of all the steps that have preceded it. Just as an organism develops a unique set of of physical traits and intrinsic reactions to stimulus so do newly developing applications. Like its biological counterparts, as it grows and matures it continues do develop and refine that personality for the duration of its lifespan for hopefully for the better and sometimes unfortunately for the worse.h