Step 1. Learn
There is a lot to learn about a design challenge before you even begin to know how to solve it. First step is always identifying and defining the challenge. Its always important to delve into the types of people that will be encountering the problem and understanding their path. Sometimes it can help to look at how other companies in similar fields are solving or not solving like problems or challenges. Its always very helpful to discuss with those that have worked with this problem previously and have an in depth knowledge of its facets. Understanding how the project will be effective or ineffective for that matter is always critical. And finally listing out the objectives clearly will help guide the next design steps.
Step 2. Understand
Once the problem is clearly defined, we have to approach it from all angles. Make sure there is no facet that we missed or don’t understand. Mapping out all its nuances, and the path anyone takes through the problem and its potential solution. Charting the path is important to be able to build around it. Sometimes this involves researching different possible solutions to the problem and defining the people that use it. Information is key to this step, so you have all the knowledge you need to move forward to solving your challenge.
Step 3. Design
With the problem defined, and all the supporting information we need at our fingertips the ideation and creation process begins. This can be starting from napkin scribbles and white board sessions, to detailed step by step wire framing. Also another great part of the design step can be prototyping some of the potential solutions to better understand their application and how people will use them. This organic process finally ends with clearly defined designs that solve the design challenge, and make everyone happy.
Step 4. Build
Designs are done! Time to apply them to reality. A design is useless if not applied well. Development is always key. Specifications help engineers apply the nuances of designs, wireframes help them understand the various steps, assets are needed for graphics, there are many parts to a proper building workflow. Sometimes seeing how things are built, can impact the final product. Seeing an implementation in progress could affect certain decisions. It is always the most exciting step because the idea finally comes into existence. Once the designs are implemented and all the bugs are squashed its time to release into the wild.
Step 5. Release
Some may think this is the last step. But its more often than not a rinse and repeat process. Seeing real people using a final product can be the greatest indication of whether the challenge was solved or if there are new challenges to be faced. Sometimes the final product is much different than the initial concept, but regardless its always exciting to release an idea into the world to be used by real people.