Each designer understands the underlayers of design approaches and methodologies in a different way. Here I’m showing you my beliefs about the under layers of the design process. I’ll tell you why I really like Design Thinking, and how it simplifies the design as well.
Through your way in the design field, at some point you will try to deeply understand the underlayers of design as an activity, it will begin with very basic questions such as:
- Why research.
- How can research give helpful information?
- Could we run Research faster?
- Best checklist for research and output template?
- How to get the best possible ideas?
- How to early validate those ideas, and how to major its weakness and power points?
- Prototype, can it be faster?
- Validation, How — When, and with whom?
- Which methods, and why?
- Which approach, and why?
- and many more…
You will try to put a definition for design based on your beliefs. a Very simple step you may find a very easy way to deeply understand any kind of approaches. we will go and simplify this complex by viewing the underlayers behind almost all the design approaches, commonly used steps or activities, methods. it will be very easy to understand the complex methods and of course, you will be able to define the way you would like to work in the future as well.
Before we go through the 4I’s Idea, we will talk for a while about specific points that help us to understand methodologies more and more,
Break-down Design Approaches,
The best way to understand any design approach is by breaking it down into parts. and roughly talk, it may be a loop of phases, each phase contains different activities [methods] rely on different design principles or previous experience [could be visible through the founder’s CV], and here they are in points:
- Phase: with input and output.
- Methods: activities that we usually do with the aim of getting a specific sort of information.
- Principles: Design principles that help to shape/drive the process to the right information/solution.
- Founder’s Experiences: It helps us to understand the reason why they created the approach like this.
Methods will be always the same,
Methods [for example user-interview] were created by designers like you and me. they did a specific activity in the aim to produce a specific output many times, till the activity became ruled and they figured out the best practices and they documented their experience and any other aspect contributed in shaping the method as we know now. When we do “card sorting” as a method during the design process using any kind of approaches such as (HCD, Design Thinking) it will be always the same. Actually, you could find different methods share together the same conceptual core or ultimate goal behind it in many different aspects such as “activity, output, input, tools, etc..”.
The 4I’s — Methods, is a part out of my website, contains the international methods of design — where you could know more and more about design practices in general. I think it will help. you could filter it by design stage as well.
For a better understanding of each method, you could break it down into these groups:
- The Participants: Involving people.
- The Tools box: Materials and stuff I need.
- The Moderator: Who will control it, if there are any.
- The Location: Where you could run it.
- How to? : The real activity timeline.
Then you need to read about best practices, the value and rating of the method itself as well. Then you should run it, get your hands dirty.
Who stands behind this Approach?
Every design approach or methodology was created based on the history of the founder’s experiences. When we know more about the peoples who stand behind a specific methodology, we help our selves to deeply understand why they built it like this, and how “from their point of view” we could do it much better, and why we should do it like that.
Design Principles are the kings,
The most important part of the design is its principles. why you choose to build this design like this? is it the best solution? the more we implement design principles through our designs, the more they will be stronger more and more. Principles in UX design should also care about psychology ones. we are humans.
For the best possible solution, we need to work in iterations start with the inspiration [research] and ends with an iteration [which contains the product validation and The loop wrap-up]. The idea is “To solve any problem, you need to understand it, brainstorming solutions ideas, build the best solution, and test it with the aim of developing a better version”.
Okay, the closest approaches — as a sample, will be the design thinking process, HCI, Design Sprint. if you understand any of those you will be able to understand why the design process in general, are:
- Inspiration: Discover the problem.
- Ideation: Figure out the challenges solutions.
- Implementation: Build it, or an MVP at least.
- Iteration: Test, and fix the usability issues.
Now we will dig in deeper, we will talk at length about each phase.
Research, Yeah. We aim to understand the real reasons behind the problem. not the visible one, in-depth, we need to understand the reasons stand behind any problem we study. even if it looks very simple, may there is a great design opportunity stands behind it.
Through the research stage usually, we do interviews to understand & meet the end-users. yes, I mean sometimes we need to meet the end-user in person just to build this kind of human communications which will make the problem more visible and clearer than ever at some point. that also will help us to choose the right solution at the ideation stage next.
No one opens a new sketch file and starts designing, that’s not how great products were built. ideation stage is very important not only to produce ideas and concepts but also to understand the connections between all the information you have. at this stage I think Steve jobs was totally right, you are connecting dots from the past [research, experiences are the past] and it shapes the future [ideation will shape it].
Wow, our journey is almost finished. at the implementation phase, we are building the solution based on the required quality based on next phase chosen feedback circle. Here we already have the ideas and basic concepts, but we need to figure out the best possible quality based on the time and the circles of feedback and how we are going to run the validation sessions and with whom. it could be just screen-flow, early sketches and it could be a Hi-Fi prototype with micro-interactions. options are unlimited, please don’t wast your time. next, we are going to explore the circles of feedback concept, the different design qualities, tools, and methods.
It’s all about validating our prototypes. during the iteration phase, we work in iterate a loop which starts with user-testing and ends with updates. we stay in this loop till we figure out and fix all the problems and usability issues. it’s important for you to understand that Changes is not about the art direction. but, it’s more about the experience — Ease of use, Pleasantness, Accessibility — and in some cases we should consider “Safety, Security” as well. through the article, we will discuss the methods, principles, and we will spot the light on the best practices as well.
Define Your Role!
It’s all about the 4I’s, it’s the main concept that stands cleary behind almost all the different methodologies and different design approaches. you don’t need to understand everything of course. knowing everything about something, and something about everything will be enough. for example, UX Designers needs to know general idea about research or ideation phase. but they should know almost everything about ideation, implementation, and iteration. and for UI Designer they need to understand the implementation stage deeply. being a superhero designer might give you lots of job opportunities, but it’s so hard to grow when you work like this.
By reaching the end of this article I would encourage you to explore The 4I’s labs Here.
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