What is a 'Design Process'?

Recently, I was given an unconditional offer to study Fine Art MA. I am so excited! Going back in to education in January made me start to think, I need to get my academic side back. The first step of this for me is my design process, and how to formally show this over marking criteria. I was writing it down as a checklist for myself when I thought, this might be really useful for other creatives, especially in education!

So, what is a design process?

A design process is a combination of dedicated work, skills, creative and initiate thinking and understanding the client’s needs. I will break it down in to sections for you below:


1. You need to understand the brief firstly.

Highlight the brief and make notes on it, break down what you're expected to do and identify the challenge that you have been set.

Mind map everything you’ve been good at and enjoyed in the past.

Generate and record ideas.

Develop preliminary ideas. Evidence every idea – even if this is through mind maps (preferred). What context? Theme? Document? Audience?


2. What are the learning outcomes for this brief?

This is what you are being marked on. It’s essentially ticking a box.

Critical thinking, solution solving.


3. What are you required to hand in?

A reflective journal? A PDF?


4. Research and generate ideas.

What if someone has done this before me? Has anybody done this before me?

What did they create?

Primary (exhibitions, interviews, things you do yourself) /Secondary research essential.

Want to be contemporary at what I’m looking at – newer is better.

Look at competition.

Written and visual – look at historical influences.

Good design communicates a message – it is my job to communicate that message.


5. Who is your audience?

To be able to communicate your message, you need to use my audience.

Mature, young, arts knowledge, no arts knowledge, public…

Build a character in your mind of your audience and imagine they are interacting with your ideas.

Which one would they like the best and why?


6. Exploring possibilities / Analysis.

Make sense of the information that you have gathered.

A small written paragraph helps clarify thinking, the function of the brief and how you’re going to communicate it.

What will I create and why?

Need to match my ideas with what my output is going to be. Explore unique and exciting ideas.

Think outside the box – how can I do better than who has done this before?


7. Draft Visuals

Thumbnail roughs, trying out loads of different solutions.

Work up to the strongest solutions.

Full size colour draft visuals.

Have I responded to this brief fully?

Decide on final idea – usually through discussion with groups.

How do colours communicate with us?

What colour is going to best communicate the message that I am trying to perceive?

Try to be as conceptual as possible.

Make your ideas count.


8. Improve designs

The client visual (the final one that you're going to go with).

Develop and refine to be taken in to production leading to the outcome.

How can my ideas translate the best that they can to the viewer?


9. Evaluation

Check that you've fulfilled the requirements of the brief and that it’s done to the best of your ability.

How well does it do this?

Does it meet all the design criteria?

What could I have done better?

Does it suit the client’s needs?