Throughout college and the first couple of years of my career, I’ve always learned about The Design Process. I could google those words right now and find several articles, usually with 5-6 steps, telling you the exact order of things to do to achieve your design project goals.

Something like this:

  1. Assess the brief
  2. Research
  3. Brainstorm Ideas
  4. Create Rough Drafts
  5. Refine Rough Drafts
  6. Present final product 

One thing I have learned is that my design process rarely looks exactly like this. Sure, all the steps mentioned above are technically there. But, there’s a LOT of moments in between that just aren’t appreciated in the 6-step list above. Where’s the endless caffeine? The repeated do-overs? The existential crisis? 

I’d like to share with you my extremely realistic design process in no less than 50 steps. It can only be described as “loosely organized chaos.” 

Step 1: Receive an email brief from my project manager, Matt, along with a message that reads: “DO THIS THING” followed by a design request from a client.

Step 2: Respond to Matt’s message with, “It’s much more polite to say “Please, do this thing.” 

Step 3: Matt still doesn’t say please.

Step 4: Read over the design brief.

Step 5: Think, “Oh nice, this might be a fun project!”

Step 6: Eat some goldfish

Step 7: Mentally prepare to enter the design research/brain storming phase.

Step 8: Choose music to “get in the zone”

Step 9: Open approximately 3 different design inspo sites, alternating between them at random trying to think of something fun and creative. 

Step 10: Change my music

Step 11: Continue scrolling through various design inspo sites 

Step 12: Briefly question my creative abilities

Step 13: Open a blank design file 

Step 14: Vaguely title it, “Moodboard” 

Step 15: Change my music again

Step 16: Compile approximately 15-20 inspo images into the mood board file

Step 17: Wonder how the broadway musical I’ve chosen to listen to will affect my Spotify Wrapped results for 2021

Step 18: Attempt to listen to a podcast instead.

Step 19: Realize I don’t have the attention span for a podcast. Switch back to music.

Step 20: Repeat step 16 because I don’t like any of the inspo images I had previously compiled

Step 21: Decide I feel adequately inspired and should start on some rough drafts/thumbnails

Step 22: Change my music again

Step 23: Think, “I should sketch some of these ideas first”

Step 24: Realize I don’t have paper

Step 25: Make 5-6 rough draft designs. 

Step 26: Hate all of them

Step 27: Fill my art board with several more drafts and random design elements that look nothing like the original ones, scattered about in no particular order. Which usually ends up looking a little bit like this.

Loosely Organized Chaos: A Step by Step, Highly Efficient, but Slightly Unconventional Design Process 1

Step 28: Continue to hate 95% of my designs 

Step 29: Recall Step 5. Decide I was wrong.

Step 30: Eat some fruit snacks* 

Step 31: Move on to a completely different project because I can’t possibly think about this one any longer

Step 32: Finish a few other smaller projects on my task list. Feeling confident.

Step 33: Return back to the original project. Feeling motivated.

Step 34: Realize I’m not as motivated as I thought and drink some coffee instead.**

Step 35: Turn my music down because my co-workers said I was listening to Taylor Swift so loud they could hear her through my airpods. 

Step 36: Design more drafts

Step 37: Repeat step 12 ***

Step 38: Realize I actually like some of my drafts

Step 39: Sit back and stare blankly at my screen for approximately 3 and a half minutes questioning everything about the work I’ve done and the career I have chosen

Step 40: Change my music.

Step 41: Refine the designs I like the best

Step 42: Extract 3-5 of those designs and place them on a much more organized artboard 

Step 43: Send them to Thomas (creative director) and Matt (project manager who still hasn’t said please) with the message “Do we like any of these?” 

Step 44: Turn around and watch them receive my message because their desks are three feet away from mine.

Step 45: They respond with, “change this part.”

Step 46: I change that part

Step 47: Repeat steps 43 & 44

Step 48: Send final design file to Matt with message, “I did this thing” ****

Step 49: Matt sends design to client 

Step 50: Pray the client loves it. If not, repeat steps 1-49.

* I promise my diet consists of more than just goldfish, fruit snacks and coffee.

** In this case, “some” coffee actually refers to very large quantities of coffee

*** At this point, step 12 has basically become a regularly scheduled event in my life.

**** I feel the need to note that Matt does often say thank you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey. It was certainly chaotic. But in the end, I think we had fun. If you ever need any graphic design work done, call our office today! This simple 50 step process can be applied to promotional materials, branding, print design, digital design and more! I’ll do my best to keep the career-questioning, existential crises to a minimum.

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