THE IMPORTANCE OF DESIGN THEORY
Design theory underpins creative work that is carried by exposing the context of what the project is to achieve and understanding the brand and values of the business involved.
Finding out what makes a person get out of bed in the morning - the driving force behind any business is an insight into what the web or graphics project hinges on. If my reason is to sell the most products I possibly can this will have a different outlook than if my reason is to sell the best product there is.
It may sound corny but hearing a company's vision first hand - why they do what they do is like going to a concert and hearing live music. You get the unfiltered version with nuances and personality. This starts to help me step into the businesses shoes.
Understanding the route of why a project is being undertaken influences the targets and goals to be set. Not 'I need a new website' but 'I need to increase bookings / create awareness / start selling online / create a desirable brand because…. it will make it easier / better / more helpful for people to engage with my product or service and fulfil a real human need’.
GETTING AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE BRAND IS AND SHOULD BE
It may exist or it may need shaping from the community surrounding the company, service or product. This is important as it directly affects how the user feels about the business and the products and services it offers creating loyalty and brand recognition. I look at the position within its marketplace, the beliefs and expectations surrounding the product, the values it provides and the facts behind this.
I ask probing questions about the competition, how this business is different, about the brand position and proposition, what its USP is and brand promise.
We have some fun, play some games, eat some sandwiches and start firing off words and phrases that reflect the values and culture of the company.
What are brand values?
These are words and phrases that describe a brand in an emotive way – they’re not measurable or tangible but are reassuring internally and credible qualities externally making the brand attractive to its target audience, engaging and ultimately influencing.
During the questioning I form a short design brief based on what has been said to make sure I have captured the visual brand requirements correctly.
UNDERSTANDING THE CLIENTÈLE
The first part of the workshop has concentrated on understanding the business from within. This second part is understanding it from the customer's perspective.
About the customer
Whether creating in depth personas or just discussing the different groups of people we are aiming to attract - this delves into the who, what and why of customer needs and the how we can fulfil them and hopefully impress them.
What is a persona?
A persona is similar to Market Research segmentation but with a more human approach. Creating an actual person from the information uncovered rather than a segment overview.
This person has needs, aspirations, preferences and frustrations just like the rest of us and by shaping and referring to these people throughout the project we create more targeted engagement.
CREATING THE STRUCTURE
The final part of the workshop looks at how a customer will interact with the website or brochure and will form the information architecture of the next stage of project - Experience Design Stage.
Customer Journey mapping
With large rolls of paper and a few brightly coloured sharpies everyone joins in plotting a flow chart from light bulb moment to happy customer. This involves how and why people start to need or want a product or service and how they are directed to the website or become in possession of a brochure.
Creating the the exact path each audience type (persona) takes through your website and the information and functionality they need on the way to ensure they get what they want; fulfilling the outcomes set at the beginning of the workshop to achieve the goals of the business.
Then, once the goal is hit, how do we look after the customer and bring them back in at the start again.
Calls to Action
With the above drawn out, in another brightly coloured sharpie, I list down the side of the roll what actions are required on each page at each step of the way. This helps with user flow of the website.
Has any technical functionality risen as part of this process that we had not yet included and if so how does this impact the project and or budget.
Preparing for a Workshop?
Download the Design Workshop Briefing worksheet here.
Check out Preparing for a new project here.
I am a freelance Website Designer, Logo Designer and Graphic Designer based in Suffolk.
Contact me for more information.