At its best, a process helps turn complicated problems into simple, enjoyable and intuitive art for everyone involved. Starting with a sequential method that’s both adaptable and holistic is crucial in conceiving and producing effective work in print and digital projects. Over the past ten years I’ve found the following sequence not only somewhat inevitable, but extremely helpful.
Start at the beginning. Invest time into understanding whom your clients and stakeholders really are, why they do things the way they do and how they see their products in the world. Truly understanding past, present and foreseeable obstacles and goals will drive better decisions in every other step of the process.
Data-driven research, a site audit and a detailed survey of the competitive landscape are often the three most helpful tools that shape a project. Together, they can illuminate an unbiased strategy that genuinely resonates with customers.
This is where the broad and complex takeaways from listening and researching are simplified, revealing a product’s greatest purpose for potential customers.
At first, all relevant possibilities are considered and explored in terms of scale, shape, color, tone, medium, style and ideas. Timing and form of delivery help prioritize what the best ways to meet and exceed a customer’s expectations. From this point, narrowing down what to do is a tough balancing act, with one side weighted by financial bandwidth and the other by more fruitful mediums and tactics to use.
In print, the experience is succinct and emotive. The primary goal is usually to stand out, and often used to drive customers to a digital platform.
On the other end of the spectrum, websites are particularly complex systemic projects. Each and every step of the customer journey must be carefully considered and reflected in the sitemap. Paul Maritz (CEO at Pivotal) said it best, “It’s about catching customers in the act, and providing highly relevant and highly contextual information.”
Once the sitemap is approved by the internal team and the client, it's helpful to create low-fidelity wireflows with the core digital team (ideally with a writer, developer and SEO specialist). Together, we can circumvent more storytelling and usability flaws usually discovered while in the wireframe presentation.
Bringing a project to life through a thoughtfully constructed visual system or idea built around the target customer is the second most rewarding part of the job. (Feel free to ask me what the most rewarding is.)
In my experience nothing is ever truly finished. Something can always get just a little bit better - especially when there is a catalyst like new data, improved technology or a new goal to consider. Like life, this industry requires we learn, grow and evolve infinitely.