Imagine what our country would be like if our politicians would learn from this.
In our crusade for the grail of design innovation, nature’s 4.6 billion years of (re) evolutionary design supplies us with the perfect template.
Design innovation isn’t just about having the “big idea” (more about that and the role of research in my next post) – it’s a process, a funnel that produces success equal only to the cumulative failure required to achieve it. Not clear on that? Let mother earth and arguably the most successful innovation of all time, you and me, bring it into focus. You’ll notice there seem to be rules, patterns actually, to producing innovation, and massively successful designs (like homo sapiens and the ubiquitous iPod) have harnessed that power.
At GTI, we utilize a “funnel” process where we capture many ideas when in a concept ideation stage of the project. It is important not to rule out ideas until they have all been carefully weighed and evaluated.
Our team pays close attention to the requirements and end goals when developing the early stage concepts. The “funnel” narrows by carefully evaluating each idea against a battery of criteria, i.e. cost, manufacturability, ease of use, availability, commonality of parts, etc.
Not until all factors are weighed does an idea become the final choice and final intent for the project.
With all of these different methods to choose from, should you be sketching, wireframing, mocking-up, or prototyping? The answer, simply put, is yes you should.
Design methods are not mutually exclusive. Rather, each method exists on a continuum of fidelity, ranging from low fidelity sketches to high fidelity HTML prototypes. Each method is well-suited for a particular phase of the design process, with one level of fidelity often leading into the next.
In his book Sketching User Experiences, Bill Buxton portrays the design process as a cycle of elaboration and reduction. The goal of the elaboration phase is to generate as many different ideas as possible, while the reduction phase is meant to select one of those ideas and carefully refine it.
Laseau’s overlapping funnels (as portrayed in Sketching User Experiences) indicate the dual nature of design as elaboration followed by reduction.
RINSE AND REPEAT
While it does typify the design process as a whole, in practice the elaboration and reduction process must be continuously repeated time and again throughout the course of design. From information architecture, to visual design, to the functional prototype, each stage must be explored in full, then lovingly honed down to a precise solution.