Nordic Design

Design, Music and Life, by Alex Lillo

Improving your design process

I’m a big fan of learning from other disciplines to improve my design process. This week I found an interesting article on UX Booth: Engineering our design teams. If you’re a digital designer go and read it as you’re likely to find something to add to your routines.

The truth is that some of those things have been part of the design toolkit for a long time, just maybe few companies do it.

Quite often agencies (can’t speak for in-house teams, never been in that side of the industry) assign one designer to a project, and that person will have to deal with the production of wireframes, visuals, etc. This tends to be for cost reasons, but working in isolation makes it harder to achieve great results.

At Webcredible we use a more collaborative process, and that ends up improving a lot the quality of what we do. Here are a few examples:

Pair designing

No matter the size of the project, a designer will never be the sole consultant. Having somebody else to bounce ideas off is critical to have more and better ideas.

You want people with different skillsets as that will allow teams to view problems from different angles. For example, pair an interaction designer with a visual designer, a front-end, or a researcher.

I don’t know who did this first, but it’s definitely not a translation of the software’s world (pair programming), companies like IDEO have been doing this for ages.

Critiques

Informal critiques are always been an important part of our design process, but after reading UIE’s blog post Good, Bads and Dailies: Lessons for Conducting Great Critiques, I wanted to turn this into a routine.

Now we hold Webcriticals almost every Thursday. When a projects is about 50-75% complete, it’s time to gather feedback from a wider audience. The sole process of showcasing your work to your peers brings clarity to your ideas, and the quality of our work always benefits from this sessions.

Project retrospectives

Last thing you want is to forget all the hard learnt lessons, and end up doing the same mistakes again and again (though we humans are very good at it).

Agency life is fast-faced and often you’re dragged into a new project in a few days, but we strive to find time and do a retrospective. Those involved will be better prepared for future challenges, and lessons learnt are communicated to our peers via skill swaps sessions.

Agile’s retrospectives, combined with a Post-up game, are an effective way to capture what happened. But you don’t want that knowledge to stay on a few people’s heads (or worse, getting dust in a file). That’s why we hold regular skill swaps, 1-hour sessions to share a knowledge we have. Sometimes we talk about photography, meditation or cooking. And sometimes we discuss what we learnt in a project. It all makes us better designers.

Have you tried any of these activities? Maybe you use others that make your design process more effective? Find me on Twitter, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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