With a plan in place, I arm myself with my favourite analog tools; a fine-liner, highlighter and set of Copic design pens to embark on a creative design exploration. Inspiration at this phase of the process can come from so many sources – benchmark digital tech, books, games, people and pretty much anything else you can think of. The key is to sketch, prototype, ideate, filter and quickly refine brilliant concepts that can be shaped in the design stage of the process.
Ideation is a critical component of the design process. Having laid firm foundations for the project this is where creativity, fun and innovative thinking take over. The goal of my ideation phase is to better understand how I might solve the problem, form a strategy and an executable plan that can deliver an innovative solution into the market place. This can be a solo effort but I find collaborative workshops can foster the best results. Whiteboards, games, scrap paper, post-its and open minds all combine to connect the dots and start shaping the design solution.
As a designer I sketch almost every day – On walls, in notebooks, on post-its or random scraps of paper. It stops me from getting caught up in the technology, and instead focuses me on the best possible solution, scribbling freely to take risks that I might not otherwise take. It’s about getting ideas out, reviewing those ideas and documenting them, not about creating a work of art. I use just enough fidelity to convey the idea effectively and can further develop my sketches into designs or paper prototypes.
In an iterative approach to design, rapid prototyping generates feedback early and often in the process, improving the final design and reducing the need for changes during development. My rapid prototypes range from paper sketches to Axure html prototypes that look and function like the product. Prototyping allows me to experiment with multiple approaches and ideas, it facilitates discussion through visuals instead of words, it ensures that everyone shares a common understanding, and it reduces risk by identifying issues early, reducing cost and leading to a better design solution.