My Designs Start As 80% Unjustified Raw Vision

Michael Bierut over at Design Observer wrote a great article about his process for designing. Rather than discussing it point for point I encourage you to just go read it. Even if you don’t work that same way it is probably useful to know more about those that do.

The paragraph that really hits home for me is his truthful description of his design process:

“When I do a design project, I begin by listening carefully to you as you talk about your problem and read whatever background material I can find that relates to the issues you face. If you’re lucky, I have also accidentally acquired some firsthand experience with your situation. Somewhere along the way an idea for the design pops into my head from out of the blue. I can’t really explain that part; it’s like magic. Sometimes it even happens before you have a chance to tell me that much about your problem! Now, if it’s a good idea, I try to figure out some strategic justification for the solution so I can explain it to you without relying on good taste you may or may not have. Along the way, I may add some other ideas, either because you made me agree to do so at the outset, or because I’m not sure of the first idea. At any rate, in the earlier phases hopefully I will have gained your trust so that by this point you’re inclined to take my advice. I don’t have any clue how you’d go about proving that my advice is any good except that other people — at least the ones I’ve told you about — have taken my advice in the past and prospered. In other words, could you just sort of, you know…trust me?”

A lot of my solutions to problems start out as ideas popping into my head, too. I go from having no idea what to build to knowing instantly how it should happen. When writing proposals most of my time is spent figuring out how to justify the raw vision I have, gluing timelines and rationale to something that started with only an inexplicable concept, so that you think I thought about the problem rationally.

But I didn’t.

And it works out great. For me, at least, and the folks that just sort of, you know, trust me.