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What is the Design process and why is it important?

Practical insights into why the design process is your reliable toolkit for success. In six straightforward steps, we'll break down how consistency and simplicity behind effective design and ensure you hit the mark with every project.

Written by:
Mike Coughlan

Paul Rand once said, ‘Design is so simple; that's why it's so complicated.’

Contrary to popular belief, creative ideas don't simply materialise out of thin air, nor do they require innate talent, and it's not as straightforward as finding inspirational triggers.

More often than not, ideas and solutions stem from a methodical approach—a tried-and-tested method known as 'the design process,' emphasised by working designers and those at art and design school around the world. Though it is a staple in design education, its importance is rarely discussed.

Below, we present Summit Creative’s version of the design process, comprising six key stages we stick to when generating ideas and addressing client briefs, from the initial stages through to the completed artwork:

1. The Brief:
Collecting all the information you will need, Finding out the who (the target audience), what and why

2. Research:
Check out the competition, industry leaders, the successes and the failures to understand what works and also gathering inspiration and to strengthen your ideas.

3. Brainstorming:
This helps produce ideas that can help solve the problem. Creating small sketches called ‘Scamps and Thumbnails’ help to visualise and develop your initial ideas, strengthen existing ideas and produce new ones.

4. Build concepts:
Choosing 2 or 3 of the strongest sketches and ideas that best fit the brief. Adding more details to make sure the concept is as strong as possible and bring it to life.

5. Development:
Testing different colours, choosing the best fonts and adjusting the layout to refine all graphic elements to get it ready to present to the client.

6. Present:
Showing the final concept to the client to gather feedback, make revisions and package files to send.

These steps align with a book called ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas,’ by James Webb Young. A book widely used among designers and creative thinkers around the world.

Young's 5 steps to producing ideas are:

1. Gather new material.

2. Thoroughly work over the materials in your mind.

3. Step away from the problem.

4. Let your idea return to you.

5. Shape and develop your idea based on feedback.

This 5-step process is a valuable tool for designers and creative thinkers because it provides another structured and thoughtful framework for guiding you through the complexities of the creative process. It combines research, reflection, breaks, and collaboration, all important aspects that help create a consistent way of producing ideas.

Why is the design process so important?

Creating thoughtful and creative designs take a lot more than people think. It is one of the main tools that designs use so forget your shiny Mac and adobe suite, the design process is the most important tool in a designers toolkit. It helps keep us on track, making sure we solve problems with flair and stay consistent along the way. It's a handy guide helping us produce great ideas, refine them and make the magic happen. Plus, it's our secret weapon for chatting with clients. Everything has a reason and following this process means we can show them the design journey, explain our choices, and make sure everyone's on the same page.

All in all it helps us find a balance between creating amazing designs that both we and our clients love which not only saves time and money but also builds credibility and relationships with existing and potential clients.

For assistance with a project or inquiries, feel free to reach out to us at

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