Our Product Design Process

We've coalesced our years of experience into this design approach. There can be so much to think about when creating a product, so there's a lot here. (But most projects can safely skip most steps.)

If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius.
— Michelangelo

We love crafting beautiful products. When we do it right, it might seem like effortless invention. But a rigorous approach underpins our work. Years of experience back up our instincts and decisions. 

You – our clients – should feel like you’ve hired pragmatic partners. It’s important you understand how we get from start to finish.

This series outlines our complete approach to digital product design. But we tailor our scope for every client and situation, picking from the menu that’s described below. This is our bag of tricks. Most jobs don't need the works.

We keep the Pareto principle always in the front of our mind. We like getting 80% of the way there in 20% of the time.

It’s tempting – and occasionally warranted – to spend more time getting that last 20% perfect. But that is seldom the wise approach

Purpose in design vs. art

Art can be anything (apparently this is art). But design is creative work aimed at a purpose. It is – ideally – scientific, measurable, provable.

This purpose is the cornerstone of all the work we do. Each project has its purpose, and it’s this purpose that all design decisions are aimed at and measured against.

Design is a solution to a problem. Art is a question to a problem.
— John Maeda

We use a variety of design tools to achieve this purpose: layout, typography, color, gestalt psychology, shape, line, and so on. These all have subjective bases, so everyone will have a different response to the design. But if we review our design work against the purpose, we can assure it is effective. We can avoid – or at least minimize –subjective debates.

You hired us so that you can benefit from our decades of design experience. Our job is to throw that experience in the direction of your purpose. We can help make it measurable. We can outline the best way to build to it. And we can design to meet your purpose, build trust with your customers, optimize usability, and promote your brand.

The challenge

We start from nothing to create something.

You come to us with an idea. You might have a kind of project brief, but we’ve found these can vary greatly. We embark on a process that puts form to this ephemeral idea. At first there’s nothing to grasp, but we get progressively more concrete until we have a real, living product.

Here we outline the process we use to develop a site or an app, which for simplicity’s sake we’ll call the “product”.

We also often work on identity projects, developing a brand, logo, colors, tone, etc.

We'll outline that related process in a separate article soon.

Table of contents

This guide follows the six phases of our digital product approach:

 
 

Thanks to InVision for collecting most of the quotes used in this series.