Visual Communication. Topic 4: Design process: execution Subtopic 4.2: More about refining ideas
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We have looked at the process of focus group
As we have seen, the design process is a long
don’t repeat the process several months from
testing and determined that sometimes it may
and quite tortuous one where ideally nothing
now! A cool head combined with a completely
a story that can be expanded over time to fill
Source - http://www.wordfalls.com
not be a good idea. It would be wrong to adopt
is assumed or taken for granted. We need to
dispassionate approach to the process of
new market segments and to reflect changes
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this stance as a general principle, however,
ensure that the design team remains objective
evaluating exactly what we have and what we
in taste or opinion?
saying that as the designer we know best.
throughout and assesses its ideas without
still need to do before we are ready to go to
prejudice or bias in favour of any particular
the client is needed here.
• Does it have narrative? Will it be the start of
• Is it flexible? Will it have a broad appeal
Good designers know a great deal and are
solution. A self-critical, self-editing approach
thoroughly versed in their own profession.
is essential as we begin to refine our process
We might summarise this evaluation in the
new target audiences and not date too
They are great collectors and observers
towards the final presentation. Now we must
of details that others might miss. They
begin to flesh out the preferred concepts,
assimilate experience from all over the
while making sure that they still respond to the
place and reconstruct it to form meaningful
client’s brief and will remain consistent within a
communication with target groups. They can
long-term communication strategy.
look at something and decide instinctively
across different applications? Will it reach
• Does the design have ‘legs’? Can it go the extra distance if needed?
If we are satisfied that we have objectively evaluated all of these issues, we should be reasonably comfortable that our design is
• Is it adaptable? Can we stretch it across
almost ready to go. There are certain key
whether or not it is likely to work. So why don’t
So how do self-edit? What exactly is it we’re
different formats, sizes, platforms and
practices that will help us tick these boxes,
designers simply presume that they know best
looking for? The key message here is ‘long-
and if we are in any doubt about the process,
and take it from there?
term’. Just as our design solution will never be finite, it is also important that we never stand still. We need to be able to change and
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we can address these now. • Is it scalable? Will it still work when the numbers change?
adapt in the course of the life cycle so we
2. Keep it simple, stupid
Keeping things simple is usually presumed to be a virtue but it is
You might argue that this contradicts what we have said about the value
important to be clear about exactly when and where it is appropriate.
of lateral thinking and innovation in coming up with ideas. Maybe we
Simplification for its own sake is not always desirable, but to make a
shouldn’t take either Ockham or KISS literally, but rather think of them
message really clear, the ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ (KISS) approach helps us
as a useful guideline when we think about our ideas. We could use the
A scientific and philosophic rule that entities should not be
to refine fine-tune our ideas. A better version of the same acronym is to
KISS/Occam’s Razor principle to test whether our idea is efficient and fit
‘keep it short and simple’. Our objective is to look at the essential elements
of an idea and to strip it back to its bare bones. It’s a very good way of ascertaining exactly how well it works in communicating the message to
But, of course, design is not built on utility alone. Good design is not
our target audience.
frivolous, nor is it simply an appeal to the whims of the day. Design enriches our lives. As we have seen, that enrichment is the result of a complex and skilful process that takes a lot of work and a great deal of thought. Simplicity and efficiency are the framework of great design.
multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities (Merriam Webster Dictionary) The rule is attributed to a fourteenth-century English scholar, William of Ockham, who proposed that any superfluous elements in any process should be pared back to produce a solution based entirely on essentials. In doing so the risk of introducing any inconsistencies or redundancies would be reduced.
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In short, Ockham proposed that no solution should be
Source - http://www.forgecommunications.com
acceptable if a simpler one exists.
Source - http://www.ivorytowermetaphysics.com
What do we mean by ‘design vocabulary’? This refers to the means we use to communicate using important differentiations based on age, culture and the tone of the message we wish to convey. We will use different verbal and visual language when talking to schoolage children and with mature-age adults. Although we normally imply verbal communication when talking about a vocabulary, in design it may be predominantly visual.
3. ‘Noise’ reduction
Elements that serve no purpose in a design, have no clear function, add
here. Remaining on message is essential, and as we have seen courtesy
A useful checklist might read something like the following:
no value and may have a negative impact on the finished product may
of Ockham and his razor, too many messages will often result in none
• Does this presentation correspond to the brief as we now read it?
be labelled ‘noise’. Few elements of a design are more frustrating than
being adequately understood.
• Does it meet and exceed all requirements as we understand them? • Is what we intend to present deliverable in terms of our original
random rules and backgrounds or irrelevant ‘ furniture’ on the page. Left to Right Source - http://www.viziononline.co.uk Source - http://richelledaly.com
These items lead us to assume that something important is being conveyed
Abstraction is a very important method of reducing specifics to acquire
when in reality there is not.
a more essential meaning to the design proposal. Such means can
• Have we missed any fundamental drivers from our ideation sessions?
be extremely effective, concise and very much to the point. There
• Does any prototype truly reflect what we wish to present?
Most designers, if honest, will admit to a penchant for certain types of
is a danger, however, that in reducing recognition and thereby cues
• Are we comfortable that we can leave it with the client?
‘noise’. It’s a very hard habit to break. However, it is important that we
to recognition, we run the risk of complicating and quite literally
• Are we satisfied that we have reviewed the presentation thoroughly for
do. If in doubt, review the project with a group. Internal focus testing is
‘abstracting’ the message counter-productively.
any redundancies, irrelevance, ambiguity or general noise?
very effective, although it may be a good idea to be wearing one of De Bono’s six hats when you get together!
• Have we prepared a compelling presentation and rationale that reflects The most effective way of refining and reducing our design before we
the amount of work that we have put in to this point?
move forward to the actual presentation is to reconvene the design team Ask: how do we know where to look? What is the tone of our design
for a final critical analysis. We might compare our original interpretation
If we are comfortable that we have answered all of these questions with
of the client brief and run through it point by point to ensure that we
confidence, we can begin to look at what is required in fulfilling the last
have covered off the requirements as we have understood them. We
point. How will we present our case to the client? How will we ensure
An eclectic approach to our design vocabulary can be both sensible
might revisit the notes from our ideas generation sessions and the
we give our project the representation that it deserves? How will we
and noisy. Approaching a solution laterally while incorporating a diverse
outcome of the brainstorming and mind-mapping to compare the
ensure that we produce it to a standard of finish that it warrants? Some
We will use different verbal and
array of ideas and themes is a very effective way of aligning oneself
immediacy of those ideas with what we have now refined from them.
great ideas get ruined through bad or careless production. We need to
uage when talking to school-age
with the target group. However, a word of caution needs to be inserted
e mean by ‘design vocabulary’? This
e means we use to communicate
rtant differentiations based on age, the tone of the message we wish
d with mature-age adults. Although
make sure that the quality of our creativity is matched in the quality of our production. We will take a look at that in the next section.
y imply verbal communication when Page