Design Brew Recap
Thursday evening, the doors of Orbit stayed open late for the first annual Design Brew. The networking event brought together clients, members of the design community, and design admirers for the purpose of creating a dialogue around design in a casual, friendly setting. Did I mention there was craft beer on hand? The Daisy Cutter went like hotcakes.
With bellies (and hands) full of pizza and beer, our own Creative Director, Nick Haas, took the mic to present this session’s topic: “What is Your Design Process?” Following a quick setup of defining one’s brand (and how Orbit defines itself), he reviewed our process – highlighting both the deliverables and the hurdles encountered in each step.
To recap Orbit’s (simplified) process:
Step 1 – Gathering information (ideas and assets from clients)
Step 2 – Team involvement (idea sharing and refining design direction)
Step 3 – Apply ideas (deliverable creation)
Step 4 – Working iteratively (reduces backtracking)
By presenting our personal hurdles and relating it back to how we have already improved and are constantly improving our process, the presentation gave some positive food for thought. This led to an open discussion that offered up a few talking points, such as “What is your design process?” and “Do you have similar hurdles to overcome?”
Being an Orbit designer, hearing designers and non-designers alike discuss their own process was almost like a mini focus group. While the mediums and themes may differ, four major points emerged. They are:
1. The Importance (and Constant Evolution) of the Moodboard
At Orbit, we have evolved our moodboards to find a balance between a final product and conversation starter. While we call them moodboards, fellow designer Zeke has found similar success in in using style tiles to establish a design direction.
Everyone in the room was in agreement that jumping right into a full design can cause more harm at a later point. Showing styles and compositions out of context or removed from a full design can pinpoint what is working (or not working). Yes, one misused color can derail your whole project.
2. Ethical Concerns in Showing Competitors’ Sites
Saya brought up a great point that brought a healthy dose of eye rolls. Her question, “When you show clients other websites or rely on their critique of competitors’ websites, where do you draw a line in what they ask for?” is definitely something designers and all creatives alike have encountered. Furthermore, what is inspiration and what is stealing?
This is where a properly set up analysis phase comes in handy. By setting clear expectations during an analysis phase, you can answer the WHY behind what clients like about a competitor’s site and even show them a new way of looking at their brand. A knowledgeable designer knows he/she can use inspiration and steer a project in a new direction without copying or stealing.
3. Client Motivations – You Want What??
A confidential attendant shared a story about a client of theirs wanting to use a super flashy, non web-safe font on the whole site…we are talking everywhere. This is something we have all faced; a loud burst of sighs and subsequent Googling of said font can attest to that.
Jim, from JS Enterprises, pointed out the significance of digging deeper, getting down to the emotions and heart behind such requests. By identifying these emotions, we can make informed recommendations and have a higher chance of putting bad taste behind us.
Bryan from Seedhouse backs this up; his process has clients pick out key brand definers before design even starts.
4. Process Implementation and Improvement
Having a well-oiled process is key to getting the results you need, and Nick’s presentation was sure to drop this nugget of valuable insight. This means having the proper people in place to implement and adjust when needed. Take note of small successes, and use stepping stones in implementing a new process.
With every process, being open to improvement is just as important for getting everything working properly. Orbit’s process sees a fair share of constant improvement, most recently with the introduction of responsive web design and development. This doesn’t mean we are overhauling it, but adjusting and tweaking as necessary – keeping an open communication stream for everyone involved.
All in all – the first Design Brew was a success, and we can’t thank those who attended enough! Just like our process, Design Brew will continue to evolve, and we hope the next session is just as thought-provoking.
Till then…how do you feel about your process? Have any tips you want to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!