When I started my career, design meant something more ‘artistic’, it was either graphic design or interior design, there was no such thing as UX, UI or product, at least not in the sense that we mean it today.
Over the years the word design has morphed into many things but its underlying meaning is still the same, function over form, or as Steve Jobs put it, “ It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
But if design is function, what function it should be? Who is it for? When will it work or where and how? And most importantly, why? All important questions that need an answer before everything else.
Companies like IDEO or Google and institutions such as Stanford d.School or the Design Council have helped us find these answers by coming up with several design processes, all of them with the same purpose, how do we know what are we trying to solve is the right thing?
In my opinion one of the fundamental skills any design team, big or mall, has to have is being able to discover and deliver a tested design solution that answers a defined problem for an audience. In other words, a user centered design process.
How do we know what are we trying to solve is the right thing?
While there is a lot to unpack in a design process, I’m only going to highlight what, in my opinion, implementing a design process enables your design team to be and do.
Sharing a way of thinking and working
A healthy design team is made up by different personalities, backgrounds and opinions. People with different perspectives lead to interesting discussions. By having a design process we create a shared approach to a given challenge, this enables everyone to use their points of view and focus on solving the right problem.
A unified team promotes consistency
When you have a sizeable team inconsistency might creep in. Wether is on your design assets or the user experience. There are many ways to prevent such inconsistencies but, the mindset is what matters. If everyone follows a design guideline on how to tackle work, you are promoting consistency throughout the team and in the output they produce.
An opportunity to up skill your team
Any team will be made up by designers with different levels of experience. The end goal for any design team is to enable each designer to develop new skills. By having a design approach you are giving the less experienced designers a path to develop their design skills into other areas and expand their tool set.
And finally, the obvious, it’s user centered
You may think this is quite unnecessary to point out but I’ve come across many times where a designer is doing work without having the end user in mind. Having empathy towards your end users is probably one of the most important things a designer should have. So having an approach that highlights the importance of the user keeps everyone grounded on what we are trying to accomplish, and for who.