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August 29, 2014

Design Isn't Magic

August 29, 2014

That’s right. Design isn’t magic. It doesn’t require sorcery, arm flailing, glittery wands, or interpretive dance (although dancing is always encouraged around the ‘Box). Don’t get me wrong, design can and should provide magical moments, but actual creativity is anything but trickery. Rather, design is a process – an exploratory, methodical, and iterative process grounded in research and comparison. Just as there are many different genres of design, there are also many different design techniques.

One common approach is based on Bloom’s taxonomy. The three main steps in this process are analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These steps are crucial in design thinking, but may also be applied to design making. Let’s take a look:


Often times, design starts out with analysis – breaking down a problem into all its itty-bitty parts. This step includes a vast amount of research and methodology, much of which happens in our Discovery phase (cue the staple sticky shot). Really, it’s all about gathering and understanding data.


After analysis, we begin to compare, contrast, organize, and manipulate the data. Here, we look for all of the connections between elements, as well as different ways to structure the information. This step is all about identifying opportunities and creating innovative solutions.

At this point, we interject some serious making – something more visual, tangible, and aesthetically-inclined. Here, we may start our solutionizing with rapid thumbnail sketches, diverging in many different directions. From this vast array of scribbles, we may begin to judge each idea against one another, eventually choosing the most promising options to continue to develop. At this point, it becomes a back and forth process, diverging and converging until we’ve gotten rid of all the ‘failures’ and come up with some solid designs.


After designs have been created, it is important to evaluate them based on a set of predetermined criteria. Depending on the type of design, this may be accomplished through user-testing, or critique and review. Through evaluation, we’re looking for validation and success.

Whew! Making ‘magic’ is tough! It's time to pull back the red velvet curtain that shrouds the making of design.


Now let’s get to work.

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