AYM Network is a design, marketing and web development company. We provide our clients with products and services that boost sales, productivity and public image.
Our design process revolves around recomendations from the AIGA (The American Institute of Grpahic Arts) and Clement Mok's writings.
Our goal with this shared process of designing is to articulate the context in which we solve problems with our craft, our skills, and our abilities. And, if we get it right and learn to participate gracefully, we'll be asked to be involved earlier--and more often--in this fundamental process, which will prove a virtuous circle!
Over the past year, the American Institute of Graphic Arts--currently the largest professional design organization-- has studied and refined what can be called pattern language. It's based on case studies from successful work by many designers, and from conversations with executives from, among others, Hewlett Packard, Herman Miller and IBM. The design process has three phases with four distinct steps in each phase (more detailed information is available at www.aiga.org )
Phase 1: Defining the Problem
1. Successful teams first define the problem they are trying to solve--they articulate it, they give it boundaries (what's part of the problem, what's outside our control). They call upon designers to help cull, visualize, and express that problem in human terms--looking at it from many different views
2. They then envision the end state. (If you've ever been part of team that seemed lost, it's likely they skipped this step.) Knowing what victory is becomes vital as you embark on the journey of solving the problem. As designers, we can help prototype the end state (through scenarios, models, journey maps, etcetera)
3. Next comes defining the approach by which victory will be achieved. Once you know where you want to go (as defined in #2), you need to create a map to get there. That map must be imprinted in the minds and hearts of every participant along the way. Designers can literally make the map real
4. Inciting support--and then action. In some cases, not everyone will want to make the journey with you. They'll need to be inspired. Convinced. Cajoled. Educated. As designers, we call on our skills as communicators to help them see why they should come along
Phase 2: Innovating
5. Once the band of gypsies, so to speak, is assembled, the next task is to look at the work ahead and be smart about it. Often it pays to take pause and seek insight that will enable the team to prototype a solution. That means research. Designers can help structure that research, and report its findings in an easily understood way
6. Then comes prototyping and comping a solution. That might mean physically prototyping it; building it in miniature, or a one-off to see if it will work. Or, it might mean prototyping a new customer experience--a collection of moments that make up an experience. In either case, designers play a critical role
7. Delineating tough choices. A good prototype (or prototypes) unearths all sorts of unexpected data and insights. And from that, tough choices emerge. Should we include this feature, or that? What if the solution costs more than people can afford? What if there are down sides? Designers can make the choices evident
8. When integral to the project, designers can help the team work as a team. By helping them make choices, envisioning different outcomes, seeing the â€œwhite spaceâ€ between and connecting divergent views and approaches
Phase 3: Generating Value
9. Choosing the best solution. This is the culmination of many steps of hard work. If we do our jobs right, we can often be the pivotal voice in this stage, helping argue for the best overall solution. We can visualize the case, see different sides of the problem, and lay out a path for making a commitment to a given solution
10. Once a solution is chosen, the next task is to ensure that people--customers, constituents, and employees--know about it. In a traditional sense, this means marketing the idea. In a deeper sense, it enables people to support the solution--be it a product, ballot initiative, and service
11. Selling the solution. In most cases, an exchange of money or time is involved--between seller and buyer, creator and participant, sponsor and beneficiary. This process is greatly helped by design, so that people know what they're buying, and what it's worth
12. Learn quickly. The most effective teams, of course, are those who enjoy learning. Strive. Improve. Designers can help take the team back through the journey, recounting the steps where good decisions (and bad ones) were made, and where and how the team can act differently next time