Design: the home game
There’s a basic flow to design, from a high level it’s fairly uniform. You start by finding out three things: if there is a problem, what it is and who it affects. From there you can start to find a solution, and you may even begin to implement it. Everyone does this, and if the results aren’t what we desire then we can try something else or let it be.
Imagine a child playing in the grass with a shape-sorting toy. They see a toy with different funny-looking holes in it and, coincidentally, a small pile of funny-looking objects that just might fit those holes. They fumble to grab a yellow cube and attempt to insert it, into the hole meant for the sphear. Spoiler, it doesn’t fit. The child will then proceed to test the remainder of the shapes and holes until they find the matches– that is, once they've figured out it won't fit.
While the child isn’t actually designing anything, they are learning one of the main principles that is apart of Design; problem-solving. Design grows in complexity when the problems become less concrete and more abstract. We employ additional steps to find out why the last solution didn't work and then, we repeat the process.
Our shape-sorter has become the board game Chutes and Ladders, which is how I like to think of the design process. The game starts the same as with the shape sorter, first, we question and query to identify and define what the problem is and who it affects; we empathize. Once we think we’ve got a handle on the problem we can either land on a ladder and use the research others have done to solve similar problems, or we pool our greatest resource –our users– for help and answers through user research. Having gained ground through research we are able to start imagining solutions, making room for ideas that may seem impossible. But solutions need to be possible and they need to work, so, we enter the next phase. We begin testing our solutions. The chute connects the testing and research phase, each snafu produces more and more insight into the right solution and brings the end in sight. And while each test is a roll of the dice, chute or ladder, we gain more understanding and can develop a better product.
JUST KIDDING, there is no end; while it's like Chutes and Ladders it’s also like Monopoly in that it never really ends. Design can always be improved, but eventually, a new problem pops up and it's ready to be solved. There is always another problem, another design to improve, another game to play.