June 13th 2015

The Creative Process

Design projects normally follow a creative project pattern of divergent and convergent thinking in order to arrive at the final solution.

Creative process

The ultimate aim of divergent thinking is to create as many options as possible in order to expand on choice. (Tim Brown, 2009)1 Participants need to be free of criticism allowing a free flow of thoughts.

Within the subject of innovation companies still exist in the realm of very real constraints such as budget. Many companies will lean towards incremental innovation, as it tends to be cheaper and easier to implement (Schnieder, 2010)2.

Convergent thinking is the practice of deciding which ideas to move forward with, to focus in on the solution.

The two ways of thinking are quite separate and cannot be allowed to mix, if convergent thinking intrudes too early, for example, and then fringe ideas that may prove fruitful could easily be filtered out. Like wise to allow divergent thinking free roam then a solution may never be found, resulting in a delayed project.

The Design Council recognised that there is a commonality in the process of various creative organisations. The tools may vary but in principle this profile of the creative process can be applied; discover, define, develop, deliver:

Discover – The first quarter of the Double Diamond model covers the start of the project. Designers try to look at the world in a fresh way, notice new things and gather insights.

Define – The second quarter represents the definition stage, in which designers try to make sense of all the possibilities identified in the Discover phase. Which matters most? Which should we act on first? What is feasible? The goal here is to develop a clear creative brief that frames the fundamental design challenge.

Develop – The third quarter marks a period of development where solutions or concepts are created, prototyped, tested and iterated. This process of trial and error helps designers to improve and refine their ideas.

Delivery – The final quarter of the double diamond model is the delivery stage, where the resulting project (a product, service or environment, for example) is finalised, produced and launched.

This four-step method is very simplistic for such a complex subject. Most creative/design companies have their own personal take on this, identify-build-measure (Engine, 2009), understand-discover-visualise-develop-implement, (IDEO, 2010). There are many different approaches varying in complexity, but at their center they all fundamentally share the same principles.

We can plot the creative project pattern against the general stages of a web project:

Creative process

Brainstorming   -   Hone in on ideas  (Focus Group)

Creative process

Graphic Choices   -   Finalise Design (Site Visuals)

Figure 8: Double Diamond Creative Project

We can be seen that a ‘double diamond’ approach, as identified by The Design Council, is being used. This provides a structure from which we can plan and manage the project. Knowing when to allow creative thinking but also giving it a time constraint. This is where experienced designers and practitioners can control the flow of a meeting.

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