We follow a process that gets them to the best result in the shortest amount of
time. The details and nuance of that process can be personal to the designer(s)
working on a project. Our process should change based on individual project's
details but will be based on Design Thinking methodologies. The stages of Design
Thinking: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.
All team members should have an understanding of the problems that we're solving
for and empathize with the people who are in those situations. To build that
understanding, we'll first conduct research and then, as a team, review that
research to build a foundation of understanding and define the problems that
we want to solve.
Initial ideas should be quick and rough. Typically, they take the form of
paper or whiteboard sketches that can later be refined. The Diverge Phase of the
Product Design Sprint is an ideal time to do this as a team. The exercises
during that phase are designed to foster an open and creative environment.
Once we've generated ideas, we decide which one is most likely to be successful.
We take an educated guess, to quickly prototype. Prototypes can take the
form of a facade of UI, like a clickable Invision prototype. They could also be
as simple as sketches or something entirely different, like online ads, phone
calls, or emails. The goal for each of these prototypes is to validate the
assumptions that the team is making. The prototype
To test our solutions, we use both qualitative research and quantitative
data when available.
As our solutions are refined and validated, we should work as close to the end
material as possible. This allows us to understand the constraints around our
solutions better and produces more accurate tests.
Just as craftspeople look to keep their tools clean and sharp; we, too, look for
the most helpful tools to aid our craft. Designers know which tool to use
depending on the scope and phase of the project.
As a team should employ a broad set of design tools to best solve and
communicate user flows, interaction, and motion. The state of design tools is
ever-evolving, and we should constantly be looking to iterate on the tools that
we're using. When exploring new tools, we should also think about pruning back
on tools that don't fit into our current process.
Sketching is a fast way to iterate on ideas, a fast way to make ideas more
concrete and a fast way to communicate those ideas. Sketching serves as a way to
get all ideas, including bad ideas, out of each person's mind and shared
tangibly with the group. By getting ideas on paper, it allows your mind to move
on from it. Those bad ideas might serve to spark a great idea that is a solution
that works well for the problem we're designing for.
We specifically use basic supplies, like standard Sharpies, during our design
sprints so that sketches are at a high level. We're not trying to get all of the
details on the page; we're only looking to head in the right direction. These
supplies also help level the playing field of drawing skill. We're not looking
for works of art, they just need to convey a solution to a problem.
Typical design sprint sketching supplies:
- Standard printer paper
- Yellow Post-Its
- Whiteboard markers
Outside of the design sprint, many of our Designers enjoy using a dot-grid
notebook from Baron Fig or
Rhodia. In the past,
we've also purchased sketching markers and pens. We believe sketching is one of
the most important tools for creating successful products. Purchase any
sketching supplies that you need to sketch using your thoughtbot credit card.
Designing visually directly in the medium that we're building for can sometimes
be challenging and times impractical. Our team employees a variety of tools to
allow us the room to experiment on the visual design before moving to code.
While using these tools, we realize that most of these tools are an imitation of
what the interface could look like.
Typical visual design tools:
- Adobe Suite
You can find team licenses for each of these in 1Password.
As a team, we seek out new processes and techniques, try them out, and assess
whether the broader team should use them. We use the Research Trello board to
the hypothesis, implement, test, and review any new process that we believe will