The Process of Wow!

Ryan RydellAdvice, Commentary

Most clients consider graphic designers to be magicians who can come up with creative ideas with a swish of their wands.  The “non client” sees it the other way.  No matter what people think…coming up with an original design idea isn’t magic that can be whipped up in a matter of seconds. It entails an entire and elaborative procedure of transporting the idea from the designer’s brain to its final end-result.

One of  the hardest parts for a graphic designer is to explain their creative process to project managers that otherwise seem to downplay the skills and necessity of the designer. Even though designers go through the entire process, still they cannot put in words the feelings attached with the entire endeavor.  So how does a creative design idea reach to its final destination?  Today, we analyze the different stages through which a graphic designer goes in order to develop a brilliant design idea.

1 – Learning & Training

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The conception of a design idea starts with a deep learning and understanding of the fundamentals of design. Creative thinking is backed by a firm groundwork of knowledge and wisdom regarding design trends and market specific consumer patterns. Although this is not a necessary condition for achieving general creativity, with a solid background of the field, you will know how to convert ideas into reality.

Training is essential in learning how to do things properly. Regardless of whether a designer designs by hand or uses some design software, they must be fully trained in operating those resources so they don’t hinder the creative process of generating the design. Being a graphic designer, training is crucial in effectively delivering the concepts to their final stage.

This is where professionals take their first lead over what I call the “garage designer”.  Just knowing how to operate a program doesn’t make you a designer…neither does a degree or certificate.  Good design… professional design takes a foundation of learned and applied skill and knowledge in all aspects of the assignment at hand.

2 – Investigation

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Before you can even conceive an idea, you must gain sufficient information of the client’s business. A graphic designer’s worst mistake is to jump straight to the designing stage.  “Garage Designers” do this all the time and in so they fail to create a design that cooperates with the clients mission.  This stage is crucial (good designers do it every time) in yielding factual and relevant ideas.  The client has a goal attached to every assignment.  That goal must be communicated to the designer through an enlightenment of the current missions and positions of the client.  Sometimes a client will provide a design brief…usually not…and so the burden falls onto the designer to conduct a full-throttle investigation of the relevant things required in the design process.

3 – Ideation

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After filling your mind with sufficient data and information related to the subject, you will now encounter the phase where several small but creative revelations pop into your head that you can utilize in your design. In this stage, the idea is not fully hatched and needs to be incubated in order to emerge. The designers note down all the tiny bits and pieces of thoughts and inspiration that come in their mind.  Its basically the “brain storming” phase where all the ideas pop out.

After these ideas have populated the graphic designer is finally in the stage to produce a creative idea. I call this stage IDEATION (Idea + Generation). This is where designers filter out the small bits and pieces of creativity and convert it into a proper graphic design idea. This process involves analyzing all the possible designs and eliminating each one at a time until you are left with the best one.  Survival of the fittest.

4 – Execution

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The creative process isn’t over just yet. One of the common misconceptions in graphic designing isthat creative process terminates once the idea has been generated. Without proper execution, you creative ideas are bound to fail and your strenuous labor will go down the drain. The execution phase involves converting the sketches into digital format, adding colors, effects and final testing on various mediums.

This is where all of the previous steps start to show their fruit.  This stage is where REAL graphic designers steal the show away from those “garage designers”.  While executing the design one may have to reevaluate the entire design.  Maybe the mission has changed, or the client ads another variable to the mix.  Without the experience of the previous stages, this step is impossible to perfect.

5 – Delivery

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Once the creative has been complete you must deliver the final product.  One must have the know how to deliver the design in the necessary formats.  What good is a business card design if it doesn’t have the necessary bleed and safe margins for proper printing protocol?  Does the client require additional formats for personal application to websites, signage, other professionals, etc…

Delivery caps off the project with a WOW factor.  “Garage Designers” seldom receive that Wow! “Good Designers” strive for that Wow! “Great Designers” take pride in receiving the Wow! every single time.

After the final approval (and Wow!)  from the client, then only can your creative design process be considered as successfully completed.


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