Posted 16 Jul 2010 - No Comments - leave yours now!
The end of the research process on any project is always an exciting time. A lot of work has been done, but a lot more lies in wait. I’d be lying if I said the hardest part was over. However, if enough time and effort has been put into through research the rest of the design process should be easier than it might have been.
At this point you will have armed yourself with more knowledge than you had at the beginning of the process. You are ready to pluck the ideas out of the ether and recognise if they are good enough for the needs of your client.
You are ready to make good design decisions.
The easiest way to begin applying your research to the design problem defined in your brief is through brainstorming.
As a side note it is always good practice to re-read your brief and agreement to make sure the problem you have been hired to tackle is clear in your mind before generating ideas.
Brainstorming is the first step in any design, it’s an excellent way of putting your thoughts onto a page that will be easily understandable at a later point. It’s also a great way of discovering how your mind works!
Simply start in the middle of a piece of paper with a word that is the central idea of the project you are working on.
As an example I’ll use the word ‘COG’. From this simple word I begin writing other words that I connect to it and begin surrounding the central idea with off-shoots and connected words and ideas. These words are then extrapolated further with words I connect to the off-shoots.
The words and ideas begin to migrate further from the original central idea, but are still connected by association. This gives you a wide variety of concepts that can be the seeds of a good idea that relates to your theme, but will not be an obvious representation of it.
Below is my brainstorming sheet for ‘COG’:
This is just a simplified example. Only with in depth research and a clear understanding of your client and subject will this process be useful. You have spent time filling your head with information relating to your client, so that you can let it all spill out on the page.
From the final ‘brainstorming’ sheet you need to go through all of the words you’ve written and assess which words will make a good starting point.
From my example, even though it is a cosmetic exercise, there are some nice ‘trigger’ words, such as: STEAM, UNIFORMITY, REVOLVE & PRECISION.
The resultant list of words will relate directly to your design problem. You can then begin filling sketchbooks with ideas of how to graphically represent these words, and how they might form a good logo/identity design for your client.
Throughout your design development make sure that you take regular trips back to your research, in particular your conclusions. This is a quality control process to make sure that all of the ideas you are generating meet the brief.
The joy of the design process is that it’s completely unpredictable. When faced with a brief I always have an immediate reaction to it and a few early ideas. I make sure I note these down, but I make sure I leave them alone until the appropriate time.
Once the ideas generation stage comes around I’ll unearth my early ideas. Generally they are way off the mark, they don’t meet the brief and are deemed completely useless by my research findings.
Sometimes when looking back to your research you will begin to make creative departures. The ideas you create will lead somewhere you never expected, this will be a direct result of you learning something new and unexpected during your research.
Hopefully over the past week I’ve managed to articulate how important research is to the job of a graphic designer. The fact is that on some projects you need to spend more time conducting research than you do on ideas generation and artwork. This is something that a lot of clients aren’t aware of, which is a contributing factor to why some think that the prices designers charge are excessive. Unfortunately, a lot of the work a designer puts in isn’t seen by the client directly, but with a little explanation, will be noticed in a final design from a mile away.
How do you apply your research to the beginning of the design process? Do you brainstorm? What other methods of ideas generation do you employ?
This article is part of a series of posts concerning research for graphic design projects.
Articles in this series:
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