Design is problem solving.
Below are some examples of my design experience.
All design is problem solving. Here's how I do it:
Step 1: Understanding
Once an objective has been set, it's time to think about the problem at hand. Researching the problem is the most important step towards achieving the solution. Depending on the project, this "understanding phase" may include looking at academic journals, news articles, consumer reviews, wikipedia entries, surveys, interviews, and good old fashioned observation.
Albert Einstein once said that if he had an hour to solve a problem, he would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution. Though I don't break down my time quite the same way, I appreciate the sentiment.
Step 2: Ideation
With a good understanding of the objective at hand, it's time to put pen to paper. Whether I'm designing a logo or an art installation, this step always looks similar: get lots of ideas down on paper. This is a great place to get into some hardcore collaborating.
From back-of-napkin sketches, to cardboard mockups, to digital drawings, this is how ideas for possible solutions are first communicated! These are the broad strokes, the brainstorming ideas, the first takes. This is what Harold draws with his purple crayon before it comes to life.
Step 3: Review & Refine
What's working and what isn't? Take those post-it note sketches and analyze them. The dreaded "critique" in art school is really the most powerful part of the design process. This is where ideas are challenged to see if they hold water.
The ideas that withstand these tests get their kinks worked out. For example, in industrial design this might be where something goes from a sketch on paper to a 3D model. The concept, even if it's not the final solution, must be proven to work.
Rinse and repeat as necessary.
Step 4: Finalize & Deliver
Regardless of what the final deliverable is, it comes out here. Ideas have gone through funnel after funnel and one remains. To exhaust another metaphor, the guitar has been built and now it's time to tune it.
Careful communication and collaboration are key to ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Every detail is tweaked meticulously checked—right down to the file name. Files are sent to the printers, things go into production, books are bound.