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Lessons from Pentagram #2
Process, Process, Process
This is a serie on what I learnt as Senior Data Visualization Designer in Giorgia Lupi’s team at Pentagram. Read Lesson #1 here.
After five years of freelancing, working in isolation was my comfort zone. I was used to following a process I had built, without having to explain decisions or share any phase of the project with another designer.
But process cannot be something that a designer does on their own when working within a team; it has to be an integral part of how the team functions. A haphazard approach to design not only hinders a team's productivity, but it also compromises the outcome's quality.
As part of my transition out of Pentagram, I was charged to formalize our design processes and presented it to the team.
Here is how I approached it.
How to build a design process from scratch
Step 1 - Analyze yourself
Review all the projects you and your team have worked on and analyze each step that was taken and how.
Identify actions and issue that are commonly found across projects.
Think about solutions that have worked in the past
List any steps that has to be done repetitively. For instance:
Organizing all data into one large document
Making a design concept presentation
Reformatting visuals for Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram…
Finding the right mockups for case studies
Step 2 - Build for others
For each step, build the tools necessary to make it easier to repeat it successfully.
Some examples of tools:
Templates: Slides, proposal, emails, Folder organisation, Illustrator files for different social media platforms templates…
Documentation on process: guidelines on how to do a project from A-Z, documents on File sizes documentation, tutorial videos on how to do specific effects in Photoshop…
Frameworks: Narrative frameworks that you’ve used consistently, matrixes…
Listing helpful tools: Figma plugins, Illustrator scripts, Photoshop brushes, Free copyright images websites… Don’t know where to start? Here’s a website who list many of them.
Step 3 - Edit with others
Now that you’ve built tools, it’s time to test them out again a real project. The best way to learn if they work is to let someone else use them. Shout out to the junior designer in our team (Nikki Makagiansar), who let me test out my ideas on her, and our project managers (Phil Cox and Madeleine Garner) who were forced to learn auto-layout in Figma. 😅
This helped me see what worked and what needed improvement.
The process should be flexible enough to accommodate different projects and allow anyone to adhere to it. Design experts or not.
I hope this helps some of you out there. I know I’ll be taking with me what I learnt from Pentagram’s process, merge it with mine. Hopefully so that one day, I can apply it to my own team.
Sent from my bed (hi COVID? Flu? Cold?),
How we could learn from female Giraffes avoiding heart failure in Scientific American
Happy International Women’s Month for all of you identifying as women. and who are one step away from having a nervous breakdown.