How I like to handle projects.

Before diving into design.

I like to understand my client’s culture, mission and goals before I start solving visuals. I firmly believe a thorough positioning process is essential to any design project. I usually start with a questionnaire that covers my client’s business, competition, customers and customers' customers. It also inquires about influences and personal tastes. I was first introduced to the idea while working at Winntech in 2007. They called it “client homework”. The questionnaire forms the foundation for a half-day discovery workshop in which we dive into the details.

Telling a story.

My first deliverable to any client is a multipage positioning document. In my experience, a narrative structure is the most effective way to frame up a business. Inspired by Pixar’s storytelling model, I set the scene (trends and challenges within the industry), introduce the characters (customers affected by the current landscape) and present my client as the hero – responding to industry trends and addressing customer needs. The document concludes with a framework that distills the business into a core promise and positioning statement. In addition, I define a set of pillars and personality traits, which are instrumental in guiding the design process.

Mapping with a fat crayon.

When it comes to planning the flow of content for any medium (marketing site, app experience, coffee table book, etc.) it’s good to start at 30,000 feet. Although I can’t wait to assemble a polished design, I force myself to step back and focus only on the content without getting distracted by aesthetics. Clients are waiting in anticipation for finished designs, which can make compartmentalizing difficult. A technique that has helped me for quite some time is digital sketch illustration. I quickly put together wireframes using loose strokes combined with a handwritten font. This way, I can mock up concepts at a rapid pace.

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