Above is the process I have used for the past 4 or 5 years since completing undergrad. I know it is not perfect but I have used it so long now it has become my default. It is a “4D” process: Discover, Develop, Design, Deploy. Overall I think this process, or any design process really helps me as a designer think through the problem so I can make sure there is more to the solution than something that looks good. I can not always relay on the client or audience for insight as they may not be able to look at things the way I do. They may not realize that a pretty design does not fix everything, but a message is what is really needed.
- Discover: at this stage I work to learn all I can about the problem presented from multiple angles and perspectives – the who, what, why and how. I turn to my design books and blogs for inspiration and the client or audience to understand what is need (or not needed). This phase is very research heavy and one of my favorite parts of the process because no matter the outcome I always walk away with something new – be it an idea or knowledge about the subject.
- Develop: I take all my finding and put them down on paper. In some cases the Develop stage is done at the same time as Discover. I try to keep my sketchbook handy just in case a spark of an idea comes along. This phase really helps me see the flaws of ideas in my head as they my sound good, but may not come together on paper/visually.
- Design: This is my second favorite part of the process. Here I get to take the ideas that work and begin to apply the aesthetic elements to them – color, type, building images and graphics, etc. Once I get the sketches in the computer I tend to continue the Development phase – I usually see something new as I build the sketches another idea is sparked. I try not to let any idea slip away even if I feel I have enough; it could always be used later. I show my work for feedback and suggestions and go back to make improvements – sort of a testing sub-step. Sometimes this involves going back to the Develop or even the Define stage.
- Deploy: After a strong design has been critiqued and refined it is time to apply it to the problem I research in the beginning. I also take this time to look at ways the design can be applied to other things – i.e. if it is a logo I may mock it up on shirts, cards and other things to show other applications for the client or audience.
I think I have a nice range of skills to work with, but I am always looking to improve and learn new things. There are 2 areas I am working on: web and writing. I am not trying to build and code from scratch, in fact I have tried coding and I really do not enjoy it. I have worked on trying to understand the language and process so when designing for web the programmer will be able to build my designs. Copy is the other area I have struggled with. Since starting school I have improved, but no where near the level of someone in advertising. These are the areas I would love to collaborate with others on and I have. I would love to work on a team that involved multiple people coming together from different backgrounds and disciplines to work on a project or problem around developing a brand. There is the experience that has to be created, products to develop, communicating to the audience and of course the identity.