Every creative team has a design process. And at a high level, those processes more or less reflect each other. In a huge sea of requests, specs, questions, ideas, stakeholders, and pixels, we have to find our way somehow, right? Here at Favor, our creative team has developed a special version of the design process.
Favor is a rapidly growing on-demand delivery startup based in Austin, Texas. Because we’re growing fast, our creative team has rapid turnarounds for all outputs. We service 11 different products and platforms, both internal- and external-facing.
Our team members were handpicked to cover several unique and valuable design skillsets. Each one of us has a specialized area, and together we make a diverse group of 6 in terms of strengths and skills:
- Head of Creative: our very own Swiss Army knife who oversees the entire creative team. He collaborates with stakeholders to understand requirements while managing the team’s projects, workflow and brand consistency, and development across both marketing and product.
Brand Creative Team
- Visual Designer: owns the marketing collateral, both digital and real world. He can make perfectly concocted lockups with his eyes closed.
- Production Designer: our illustration wiz and quick iteration knockout who’s constantly helping Favor develop a style and personality.
- Photo Editor: our photo guru who can do wonders with food, color, light, and wooden tables.
Product Creative Team
- Product Designer: Favor’s very own prototyping magician. He knows how to work the pixels for memorable experiences.
- User Experience Designer: loves getting her hands dirty and seeking user feedback. She considers herself the voice of our users
Being a small team with so many different types of minds, we tend to have fast and thorough thought cycles when creating products, artwork, photography, and campaigns. We each bring an array of different questions that pertain to our areas of expertise, whether it be icon design, photo composition or coloring, type styling, or a usability hiccup. As we go through this process, we’re able to uncover shortcomings of both brand and product designs quickly to come to stronger solutions.
In order to cater to all of the different types of products and platforms we design for, our design process is simple and flexible. Unlike a constructed machine, there’s a high level of fluidity to our process—quality assurance, timelines, and research discovery require different components of the process to be slightly altered from project to project. The goal is always to create beautifully usable products and memorable campaigns.
The head of creative works with various stakeholders in product, marketing, operations, and other facets of the organization to clarify needs, timelines, and qualifications for project completion.
Appropriate members of the team are then pulled together to gather the information needed to get the task started. This can range from data analysis of demographics to constructing user studies, to visual research across the web and in real life.
Team members will then start to outline the vision for design by either sketching by hand, on a whiteboard, or creating a project plan. The results of the research will also begin to shape the tools we need to complete the task at hand. Will photography resonate better with the campaign or audience? Let’s pull in our photo editor. Will illustration allow the imagination of the end user run wild? Let’s pull in our illustrative talent.
Gathering input isn’t a linear step between sketching and refining—it’s ongoing. With every step, we adhere to a policy of checking in early and often. We generally have conversations at 30%, 60%, and 90% completion of a project. Our team focuses on asking “What can I improve on?” rather than “What do you think?” to gather genuine and useful recommendations. Input can come from stakeholders or from a scrappy coffee shop usability study.
Refining isn’t just about outlining strokes and preparing exports in Sketch—it’s about stepping back and asking if this solves the problem and addresses the audience. Copy may need to change. Calls to action may have become overly complex. Simplicity may have been lost or forgotten. How can we show less to allow our designs to do more?
Once we have consensus on refinements, we’re ready to create the various iterations the task may require. This could be finishing out all screens of an app feature or producing all of the various sizes for a digital marketing campaign.
If shipping a project means we’re done, then we’ve failed. Shipping to our team means we’re ready to throw our work into the wild, test the results, and then iterate. Our work is living and breathing—and to keep it that way, it requires attention.
Being part of a high-growth company demands speed and precision at the same time, which means we must work in lockstep with each other. By doing so, Favor’s creative team can constantly ship designs that that are on point and “wow” all of our different users and audiences.
The design process can never been concrete. As the organization grows and our audiences adapt, we need to continue to add tools and modify steps in our processes—whether that means adopting new prototyping tools, advancing our project management software, or looking to add a new member to the team.“Ask ‘What can I improve on?’ rather than ‘What do you think?'”
Our creative team and creative process are deeply intertwined with the blue DNA of Favor. Though our process will evolve in the months and years to come, we’ll always hold on to the collaborative and high-touch pieces of our workflow, just as our products do. We’ll tirelessly gather input from peers, stakeholders, users, and the industry in order to create first-class designs and experiences that leave our users filled with delight.
Our best advice for design teams
- Review work early and often
- Get buy-in to prevent surprises
- Ask ‘What can I improve on?’ rather than ‘What do you think?’ to gather genuine recommendations
- Constantly ask, “What user need is this solving?”
- There’s never a cookie-cutter path to project completion—design processes are multi-dimensional