Making a Process Book
By Jim Watson; with input from Jeff Price and Ruki Ravikumar
Great design solutions don't come easily - design is not magic. It takes hard work, research, deep thorough assessment, lots of sketching, and exploration.
To facilitate the process, it is helpful to create and maintain a collection of the influences, inspirations, and pieces used for assessment, research, ideation, and solution development. This collection, bound and somewhat organized is called a process book. It will help you work through the steps of the design process and serve you well in job interviews. Interviewers know that the Mac makes all projects look good - they want to know what went on in your mind while you developed a solution. Flipping through a project process book provides the interviewer with a peek inside the thoughts, notes, and sketches of the designer.
Note: the Process Book is a bit different form an Idea Journal. The journal is personal and includes a myriad of inspirations, influences, thoughts, and ideas. The Process Book is specific to the project being addressed. It can also include inspirations and influences, and ideas, but only specific to the project. More about the Idea Journal.
The book can be bound, a loose leaf notebook, or a spiral notebook. A loose-leaf binder allows you to add pages as necessary. Choose a style that is comfortable, convenient, and allows adding more info.
The journal should be large enough to sketch in and convenient for storage and putting in your portfolio. Experiment with different sizes until you are comfortable with one.
Cover and binding
Select or make a 'book' that will be convenient, appropriate to you and your lifestyle, and adaptable to a variety of uses (writing, sketching, taping, etc.) Design a cover and/or title page with a unique identifier.
Content headings/pages suggestions
• Name of designer
• Client/company name
• Project components (identity, sign, stationery, gift certificate, brochure, etc.)
• A summary of the project, its specs, and unique needs.
• Description of company/entity - brief yet complete explanation of the primary function of the client's company.
• Statement of the design problem - what the marketing/design needs are, To overcome/introduce/help communicate . . .
• Mission statement - Create and produce an identity, signage, and graphics package that conveys the warmth and personal service of a new hair salon, while helping to overcome a poor entrance & awkward location.
• Target markets - consider primary, secondary, tertiary audiences. Be very, very specific.
• List adjectives the solution should convey - qualities and attributes that are communicated.
• Objectives the solution should achieve - list and clarify what should be accomplished. The new logo should be minimally offensive, easy to remember, easy to reproduce, . . .
Research & inspiration
• Research conducted, from many different venues and sources, about the company, the audience, the marketing needs, etc.
• Sources: ad tearsheets, photos of similar ideas, objects, products, magazines, books, questionnaires, interviews, websites, drawings, photographs, catalogs, maybe even trash you find on the ground. Display these inspirations and influences so that it is easy for you to refer to them later. Avoid stuffing them into an envelope.
• List what you did to get fluid ideas - the ‘silly' stuff you did to open your mind, get inspiration, explore, pursue options; the more off-the-wall, the better. This can be a stream-of-consciousness style of musings and thoughts.
• The 'Eureka' epiphanies
• Barriers and blocks
• Brief descriptions of the ‘big idea' that will drive the solution. The creative strategy. The concept.
• Include as many sketches, thumbnails and roughs, as possible. There should be numerous different idea concepts, not just a few ideas with numerous variations.
• The solution concept, restated more clearly.
• Thorough rationale for all design decisions. Refer to notes included earlier in the process book.
• Samples of the final roughs and finished comp.
• Determine if the piece effectively meets the objectives stated in the assessment. Be honest. A scientist looks at his/her work with discerning eyes, always looking for improvement. Often, the best designers are the hardest on themselves, which shows self-confidence, honesty, and a desire to become a better creative problem solver.
• What you would do differently.