Elements of a design process

Another big project I’ve been involved in, in the Sauder d.studio, is to redesign our website. I am not dealing with the technical side of things, but together with the team, I’m involved in the strategy development and communications design part for the website. For example, this includes ideas such as who are we redesigning the website for, what new information do we need and how does the new website look like?

As I’ve mentioned that we always operate like a design process, this was not an exception. It’s not that we say, “we will operate like a design process”, but I guess the art of practicing strategic design just becomes part of the way in which we carry out our tasks. Let me take you through our process.

I can still remember that when we were presenting our ideas of our redesigned website to my supervisor, she stopped us and said, “Wait, you guys jumped straight into the solution.” So, we took a step back and started with a brainstorming session instead. We worked around a technique called the ‘5 Whys’, where it was all about asking ‘why’ after each answer in order to define our root cause and aim of redesigning our website. It was an opportunity where we were finally able to hone our target audience and our goals of the project. With that, we reviewed our initial ideas to see how our suggested plan matched the goals.

With our goals and a rough sketch of our redesigned website, we started prototyping. During my time with the d.studio, I learnt that prototyping need not be a piece of elaborative “artwork”, rather, it can simply be a sketch on a paper, a model built by some cupboard pieces, or even a hand-drawn mind map. A prototype helps to covey an idea and should be able to be passed on to another individual. For us, we mapped out the entire redesign on the whiteboard, using stick notes, magnets and star stickers.

Throughout the process, we were working as a team. For me, it was learning how to share my ideas and ask questions on areas that were new to me. As this was my first time working on a web redesign project, I felt that it took a while for me to be able to picture the prototype visually. But I learnt that that this should never impede me from asking questions. After all, by talking it out in a team, that’s where learning takes place.

Reflecting on this whole process, I remembered an interview I had with a d.studio alumnus. She was saying that in any creative process, as much as one was capable of handling the work individually, it was always useful to talk and brainstorm together. Looking at the planning stage of this project, the constant questioning, the prototyping, and the collaborative working were all part of working through a design process.

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