Having a process helps you know when to break it. In fact, the terms process and design sound almost antagonistic. Can creativity be processed? Is there a prescribed and regulated formula for designing products? These are some of the questions we asked ourselves when we were trying to describe what is the process we follow at Reboot to design products.
When working with clients we always tend to systematize everything, not only as a way to reduce the uncertainty of the process, but often to sell the method. That unique system that allows everything you touch to turn into gold. The philosopher's method. The alchemists of the digital age.
We have a somewhat particular vision of processes, especially those applied to product design. Maybe it's because our DNA is from product maker as our background is creating our own products for users and clients, the word process seems too rigid and, in many cases, useless.
The result ahead of the process
Many companies focus on selling the process and forget about the result. The process does not make any sense if the output we generate is mediocre. A flawless process can result in poorly designed products. And the reverse is also true: out of chaos and anarchy incredible products can emerge.
In fact, here is surely an unpopular opinion: no truly groundbreaking product has emerged from following "academic" processes. Many companies would be terrified of having this conversation with their customers, because they will never be able to recognize that the creation and design of good products has that component of randomness and individual talent that cannot be bottled or manufactured in a chain.
When we design products all that matters is the result. Nobody cares about the process. Nobody cares about low resolution, high resolution wireframes, information architecture, or flow charts. Unfortunately, none of this guarantees the final result, because when we go from wireframe to hi-fi design there is a leap into the void where only the talent of the team involved matters.
And then, do we have a design process?
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, having a process helps you know when to break it. If you ask us, of course we have a design process. There is nothing special, it is the classic process that most agencies and studios use to a greater or lesser extent:
- Content architecture
- Visual design
The difference is knowing when to break it. Having a process serves to bring some certainty to the chaos of creating a product and offer predictability to the client of the events that will happen. However, not all projects need to go through the process in the same way, sometimes they don't even need to.
When we feel that we have enough information or specificity about the product, we have no problem jumping directly to the Moodboard or visual design phase. If the process is not going to have a positive impact on the final result, there is no point in delaying the time it takes to launch it on the market and put it in the hands of the clients / users. That's where the process really begins.
When we carry out simple projects in the Studio -landing page, corporate websites- many times we jump directly to the visual phase once we have understood what the client is looking for. We have found that on many occasions conversations are richer and more fruitful about hi-fi design than about wireframes.
However, having a mature and structured process have also its benefits, since the more complex the project is, the more important it is to have a process whose goal is to move from uncertainty to concrete. Although sometimes it is more important to know how to specify a first version of the product with the core functionalities, rather than having to distill dozens of complex functionalities through a process to result in a colossal product in effort and cost.
A process at the disposal of the result
We believe in the processes that are at the disposal of the result. Never the other way around. Each stage of the process has to serve to increase the value of the final result and, if we feel that the contribution is going to be inconsequential, it is a good sign to skip that phase and jump to the next.
Again, we admit that our vision may be somewhat biased due to our background. For example, at Cravy we were able to create a real-time take-out application by working directly on hi-fi design and iterating on it.
It's all about context. Does it make sense for a 2 person startup to create a rigid design process? Probably not. As it may not make sense to have that rigidity when developing a first MVP where what matters above any process is the speed to launch it to the market.
Now, if on the other side of the table we find a corporate, several stakeholders and a rigid chain of command, surely it does make sense to establish a process that speaks the same language that our interlocutors are used to. It's all a matter of context.
In short, with or without a process, what is important will always be the value we deliver to the client in the form of a product. The way in which we have reached it can vary, from the most strict and academic process, to the most absolute chaos and anarchy.