Consider any digital service or product you’ve used often that you absolutely enjoy. They usually are made up of thoughtfully designed and highly functional features, but it didn’t start off like that.
Each component, right down to a button’s corner radius, was first developed as an idea, after which each notion underwent a design process to become what you see and use today.
When applied properly, design processes are the most effective way to release creativity, boost results, and involve stakeholders along on a journey from scratch to finish. This article will take you through:
- What is a design process, and why it is important,
- Steps that make up a typical design process,
- Selecting the right design process for your business,
- Examples of effective design processes, and so much more.
Let’s get right into it.
What is a design process?
Design processes are a means to first determine what has to be done, then carry it out. It is a system that helps you divide complicated projects into more manageable stages.
You might attempt to accomplish a goal, solve a problem or maybe more, or create something unique along the road.
Design processes are a systematic approach that directs innovative teams toward a specific, worthwhile objective for their design work.
Realizing that the design process is not about doing things the correct or wrong way is the first important step. Instead, you must utilize the design process as a tool to increase your creativity, productivity, and accuracy.
You should shape the process. The process shouldn’t shape you. Design processes are merely a tool you use to produce better work rather than a strict list of instructions to adhere to.
Why are design processes important?
Design processes are used to give structure to creative ideas that would otherwise have nowhere to go.
By establishing a design process, you can increase team cooperation, the caliber and efficiency of your design work, and the likelihood that everyone is pleased with the results.
Here are 5 reasons why design processes are a good addition to your workflow.
Improves predictability of outcomes
The design process as a whole is not chaotic and untidy, but the creative process of a single designer may be.
Everybody in a larger company can grasp the regular flow of events. Timelines become more predictable as a result, and it becomes less important to question how the design is progressing.
While visual design alone can result in a stunning product if usability or research aren’t given any consideration, the likelihood that your product will fail rises.
The risk of failure dramatically diminishes when design processes establish a clear way ahead.
Enhances project visibility
A lot of clients start out with no clue of what it takes to turn a solid idea into a fantastic finished product. You can demonstrate to your client exactly where their money is going during the design stage of their project if you have a simple and transparent design process in place.
The client will understand where you are in the product journey because it is reason and logic-based at every stage.
As a designer, you will always be able to describe what is happening. There are no surprises because everything is logically related and interrelated.
The team can move through distinct stages with the help of a process, which in turn provides clarity and visibility for the client, the design team, and other cross-functional teams. Everyone becomes aware of the project’s development as it goes along and participates as needed.
Improves team synergy
Even with the world’s best design team, it won’t matter if there isn’t clarity and a shared workflow that has everyone working together.
Maintaining an organized design process improves teamwork and alignment by making clear the scope and objectives of the design, who is accountable for what, and what needs to be done when.
All team members will benefit from a systematic design process for collaboration and work tracking, especially if some team members are remote and have little overlap in their schedules.
If there are any clear hand-offs or communication gaps, the design process will reveal them too.
Delivers consistent productivity
The design process is similar to a workflow template to adhere to, and we are all aware that templates make our job way faster.
When multidisciplinary team members are on the same level and know how and when to assist during the design process, you can make crucial design decisions more rapidly along the way, which boosts overall productivity.
Produces user and business-centric outcomes
Your final design and user experience benefit from the design process’s requirement that you think about your user and their demands right away.
Your team benefits from less turbulence during the design stages and will be more confident that the final designs achieve all of the objectives you intended for them since the design process also allows space for better distribution and testing.
The importance of user-centric thinking in the design process
At the end of the day, any product you produce is for the user, not for you. That is why user research is such an integral part of the design phase.
The best way to create a product that is successful and useful is by putting your customers in front of your decisions.
A lot of the design processes we touch upon in this article are user-centered approaches, with a lot of emphasis on involving users at almost every stage of the design phase.
The reason that user-centered design thinking is so important is that it makes it easier for design teams to determine the direction they’re on with the product. Any time stakeholders are uncertain about certain design aspects, all they need to do is give it to users for testing, and you’ll clearly see where you’re right, where you need to improve, and where you’re wrong.
Beta testing in software or video games, for instance, is an ideal illustration of this. You can receive real-time feedback from users and even the larger market by involving them directly.
If everyone dislikes the beta test, you probably need to start over and ask the users what they would like.
If they accept it but feel that it misses something, you must make changes and continually test your prototype until it is to their standards.
Steps that make up a typical design process
There are numerous design processes that you can choose from. Which one you pick will eventually come down to your industry, business goals, and overall methods.
The number of steps in each of these design processes will vary too, ranging from 4 steps to 6 steps, or maybe more (we’ll look into a few later on in this article).
However, there are a set of stages that almost every design process covers, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on here.
With that said, here are the 6 steps of a typical design process, in order.
- Identify and research the problem
- Ideate possible solutions
- Evaluate and select the best solution
- Create a prototype
- Test and troubleshoot
- Implement the final product
Step 1 - Identify and research the problem
No matter what problems you’ve found, the strategy is always the same. During this phase, you’ll also research the market, see whether any rival products already exist or are in development, and identify the user demands that rival companies ignore.
You and your team must determine
- The problem you need to solve, and who has them,
- A solution that is advantageous to everyone,
- Restrictions and requirements for the project,
- The ultimate goal.
Even if you believe your proposal is sound, pay attention to the needs and limitations. Many new projects die before they ever get off the ground due to poor requirement collection, inadequate planning in advance, and a lack of vision.
When it comes to research, a few straightforward questions might assist you in conducting it effectively.
- Are there any current approaches to resolving the issue?
- Do these in any way fall short of client expectations?
- Do these solutions provide versions for particular niches?
- How much do consumers spend on comparable goods?
- Can the issue be resolved using current technologies?
Step 2 - Ideate possible solutions
Here, it’s time to go to work and begin tackling the issue.
Make a list of potential solutions by asking “how might we” questions first. If you’d like, you can also provide further specifics.
- How could we accomplish X?
- What is the solution’s scale, and when will it be developed?
You can either brainstorm collectively or individually gather ideas to compare and combine after writing them down based on the problem statement.
You can quickly distribute and share your surveys and forms to get as many people and as much relevant data as you can.
Ideally, you should have 4–8 solid ideas to move on to the next phase by the time this procedure is finished.
Step 3 - Evaluate and select the best solution
When you have a list of concepts you want to pursue further, test them.
- Does it meet the required deadline?
- Does it actually meet the needs of your target clientele?
- Is the product your business offers a differentiator in and of itself?
Don’t just allow one person to decide, even if you can’t meet face to face. A Kanban board can be used by distributed or remote teams to rank and choose ideas.
Vote on which option to pursue first if you wind up with numerous plausible solutions. Too much division of your team’s focus will not produce positive outcomes.
Step 4 - Create a prototype
Without hurrying the process, spend very little time prototyping your idea.
Do not forget that you are not bringing something to market. It doesn’t require a full branding package or all the bells and whistles.
Utilize inexpensive components and reusable pieces for physical objects. Rely on crude prototypes like storyboards or partially finished goods where the process is completed manually.
Never undervalue the importance of low-fidelity prototypes.
Step 5 - Test and troubleshoot
Here, you can try out your prototype and determine whether any incorrect customer assumptions were formed.
All you’ll need is a crude prototype to collect useful feedback as long as you can provide the experience your customer must anticipate.
After the user tests, be sure to conduct a customer interview and ask important questions.
- Was your issue resolved by the prototype?
- Have you ever had trouble finishing a task?
- What did you think of the prototype at first?
To sample the system’s actual intuitiveness, test some users without giving them any specific instructions from the staff.
If you’re creating something as a substitute for an existing digital product/service/feature, set up an A/B test.
Step 6 - Implement the final product
If your prototype was successful, all that’s left to do is polish it up and make it available to the public.
Return to the prototyping phase if users identified any significant problems. If there weren’t, fix the minor problems and proceed directly to release.
Commonly used design processes
Design processes are not rigid or formulaic, so there is room for flexibility and change as and when needed by an organization. While there are tons of design processes for different scenarios, there are a few that people show a lot of interest in.
Design thinking is a process that is used to create concepts for new equipment, structures, and goods. It is now tightly linked to innovation and the development of cutting-edge goods and services.
Design Thinking is the process of starting with the user at the end of your product, developing empathy for them, understanding them, and working on solutions to issues they face through continuous experimentation. This approach is particularly effective when combined with user-centered design.
This is a five-phase process:
Design Thinking is excellent for comprehending or resolving complex issues in a particular field. In circumstances where the outcome is largely predictable in advance, it is useless.
If you want to learn more, here’s everything you need to know about design thinking.
Design sprints, created by former Google Ventures design associate Jake Knapp, are a creative five-day process for understanding, ideating, deciding, prototyping, and testing products. Its goal was to launch the products more quickly and get them into customers’ hands.
Concepts are validated throughout these five days through teamwork, and all important product challenges are handled through prototyping and extensive testing of all ideas with actual customers.
Last but not least, it makes use of customer input to improve and put into practice the best product outputs.
As mentioned, this is a five-step process spanning over 5 days.
Design sprints are advantageous when
- You’ve started a new endeavor to develop a common vision.
- You must improve your decision-making speed.
- Your product team has hit a roadblock.
- Discovering fresh insights that you want to use.
To learn more, here is a complete guide on to design sprints.
Double diamond design process
The British Design Council’s Double Diamond Design Process, which is broken down into four different phases called Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver, captures the similarities of creative thinking across disciplines.
It is memorable and simple to comprehend due to the visual representation of two diamonds close to one another.
The Double Diamond is particularly helpful when a lengthy process and a wide range of ideas are required.
When dealing with a scenario where the outcome is largely known and you simply need to get it done, going through each step of the procedure isn’t really helpful.
If you want to learn more about this, here’s a guide to the double-diamond design process.
Double diamond design process
User-centered design is a design philosophy that prioritizes the wants, goals, problems, and feedback of the users right from the beginning of the design process.
The UCD methodology encourages designers to develop a product that specifically addresses their use cases and forge distinctive relationships with the relevant user communities.
Most crucially, user-centered design is an iterative process that involves consumers in various research and design approaches to produce products that are accessible and useable.
UCD is a four-step process.
User-centered design is important at all times because, at the end of the day, it is your users who actually, well, use your product. By keeping the users at the forefront of design decisions, you ensure that the final outcome is everything your customers want.
If you want to learn more, here’s how you can implement UCD.
The most common user-centered design processes are Lean UX and Agile UX, both derived from the Lean and Agile Development methodology from software development. Both these processes are mindsets and a culture that focuses more on design experience than design deliverables.
How do they differ? We suggest you read our articles on Lean UX and Agile UX to understand that.
The missing element of design processes
As you experiment with several design processes, you can standardize and adjust them to meet the needs of your team. However, a crucial step is left out of all widely used design procedures – measuring the RoI of design impact.
Rarely is design evaluated and shared with the other stakeholders via an ROI or quantifiable shift in a business KPI.
As specialists in design, we think one of the most effective ways to demonstrate the value of your design work is to calculate your RoI. In essence, you must identify a set of valid design metrics and use them to show how your design choices impact the bottom line, whether it is revenue, cost savings, or another KPI (KPI).
Measuring design RoI can help you reduce costs & expenses, optimize conversion rates, increase sales and improve overall team performance.
While a lot of organizations are coming to terms with the fact that calculating design RoI is crucial, we don’t see its implementation enough, which is a crucial change that needs to be made immediately.
Selecting the right design process for your project
A typical mistake people make is that if you follow the steps of the design process, your work is over once you get to the last one.
The process of designing is not linear. You frequently repeat the entire process several times or even switch back and forth between the steps for a single project rather than performing each step in order.
Despite not being a linear process, design always begins at the same step – planning.
When you feel you have enough information at each phase, you move on to the next. However, if you run into problems or find it difficult to move forward, you go back to prior steps to reconsider your choices or gather more information.
While many designers follow a similar method, you must keep in mind that the design process is versatile when it comes to customizing it for your project. Every designer should adapt their process to fit their unique set of abilities, preferences, and goals.
By giving different processes more or less time, adding or eliminating steps entirely, or changing the order of steps altogether, you could and should modify the process to better suit your needs.
Using design processes will help you have better ideas and spend less time sifting through subpar notions when you get to the more creative steps. Additionally, you’ll discover that you generate ideas more frequently and have a better sense of how long it will take for you to complete tasks.
There are several advantages to using design processes, and the beautiful thing is that you can modify them if they don’t work for you. There is no right method. It only matters if your design process aids in the production of your designs.
How Cubyts can help you with design processes
Design is a collaborative process, and that involves working together with other stakeholders as multi-disciplinary teams. If your entire organization doesn’t adopt design processes, it won’t work out well for you.
That’s where we come in. If you’re planning to implement a particular design process into your organization, whether you’re a fresher or a design expert, we have something that can help you kickstart this journey.
For your design teams, Cubyts has developed modules that provide you with templates and optimum design practices that are readily available to everyone using our platform.
With our modules, which were developed particularly to make the process simpler for you to use and comprehend, you can now design, create, and apply your design process workflows with the utmost ease.
Don’t want to use our templates because you have a unique design process that works for you? No problem. You can create your own design process workflows within our software so your entire team can access and make use of it.
Cubyts is your one-stop shop for managing your design processes.
We hope this article has enlightened you as to the importance of design processes. Feel free to get in touch with us to get a hands-on idea of what we offer.