Monday, April 16, 2018

Want Great Design Faster? Then, Slow Down.

unsplash-logoMitchell Hollander

Everyone wants great results faster. We designers are asked to produce design projects faster and faster. And we are being asked to come up with more creative, innovative, and effective design. The demand is never satisfied. It seems like we are only as good as the last project. And there seems to be no signs of abating. I wonder sometimes if this expectation is even sustainable. (Probably not.)

Part of the problem is that technology has changed expectations. According to a study by Fetch, 52% of millennials are more impatient today than they were more than five years ago, due to their dependance on technology. We are developing into a society of impatient perfectionists. Clients always want it cheap, good, and extremely fast.

What do we do as designers to continue producing great results faster?

My suggestion: Slow down.

Instead of trying to design faster, focus on what makes for great design. And use the time you have efficiently, not in a mad rush. Here's some suggestions:

Think more.

We need time to think about what the problems are, and how to solve them. When we take the time to meditate on the project, we come up with better ideas. This involves asking enough questions to get a good grasp of the issues. A good approach is developing 5 Ws and an H questions (who, what, why, where, when, and how). And then we can either ask the client, or find the answers ourselves.

Write more.

It's so easy to sit at the computer and surf for inspiration. But, that may not be the best approach. We need to take our thinking up a notch by writing our thoughts out with words, not just images. One thing we can do is clarify the project with a creative brief. Even if the client has given us a brief, we can still stand to put it into our own words — which we don't have to share with the client. This helps us think better.

It's also a good time to select keywords the client may have used — or we've thought of — to develop word-association lists. This will be great fodder for creative ideas.

Research more.

With thinking and writing comes the need to find answers on our own. That will involve doing research. It's true that some of these questions can be answered by the client. But when we do our own research we develop our own take on the issues, which is invaluable for creativity.

Some example questions to research are:

  • What are the client's competition doing? Why are they doing it? 
  • What are the gaps in knowledge? 
  • What's another way of seeing this project? 
  • Who does this project affect other than the primary audience? And does it matter? 
  • What are best practices? 
  • And so on.

Sketch more.

I know many designers who say they can't draw. That's not entirely true. Anyone can draw. It's just that some people can draw more realistic and understandable than others. That shouldn't stop any of us from taking the time to sketch and doodle ideas on paper. (Yeah. Old school y'all!) It forces us to think deeper as we send signals from our brains to our hands to create something. And as our eyes see what we sketch it causes us to feed on what we produce — even the mistakes.

Train more.

Take time to build our skill sets. This will make us faster. Take my word for it, rushing doesn't make us faster designers who create great work. It just makes us sloppy. But, getting efficient with the tools we use can make us faster at getting the results we've just spent time thinking and planning for.

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