Naturally, we use a variety of methods when working on a project.
We have been told that not everyone has creativity. This notion was eye-opening to us. We are sure it is incorrect, but we do know that everyone gets stuck sometimes. We have a host of tools we use for unsticking ourselves and our clientsâ€”ways to release intuition, great systems for engaging audience, and mindblowing freakiness to expand conciousness. Really.
The Optipop Design Brief
Our design brief is an intensive 1â€“2 hour interview held with the major stakeholders in a project. We find the process works best with up to five client participants. Website-based briefs are different from print-based briefs which are different from branding-briefs which are still different from video briefs. On the client side, participants in a brief for a website might include the client project manager/marketing director, the administrative personnel who will perform site updates, a president/CEO/company owner, and sometimes a board member or community member who has a significant interest in the actions of the organization.
Design briefs for print (direct mail, advertising, conference materials) usually have fewer participants unless there is a strong indication of establishing a new brand direction. I think this is somewhat related to the fact that print has such a long history, that we as a culture have assimilated the facets of the technology and are comfortable in describing it. That said, a newly established company will have less brand capital and will require more attention in this process.
Both video and computer-based media (including web, kiosk, and software interfaces) require special handling. These media are, or can be, interactive and include motion. Describing motion in words is like trying to understand a river by filling a cup with water. The creative efforts described in theses briefs are necessarily incomplete; shorthand can be used to explain structure (i.e. wide shot, medium, close-up, fade to black), but words fail when explaining concept, emotion, and desires. For these areas, we include statements of goals (“I would like this video to…” or “We want the viewer to feel…”).
We’ve developed our brief process over time; it has changed to include new aspects of business and new technologies, so the brief we held with you in 1998 is definitely not the one we will conduct in 2018. The process allows us, the designers, to have a deep understanding of your needs and your organization. We frequently refer back to the brief during execution of the project. It is a record of needs and goals. As a project is carried out, we frequently find that the act of definition modifies the goals. With our client, we return to the brief and evaluate how the needs of the design or campaign should be modified to accommodate.
The design brief also helps the organization define and share knowledge about itself. The act of sharing institutional knowledge is a great side benefit; hopes/dreams/aspirations are juxtaposed with fear/uncertainty/doubts â€“ through this stakeholders find a strong understanding and direction.
We incorporate research as appropriate to the nature of the project. All our web clients have preliminary research included as part of our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) process. Other methods of research we can execute include paper prototyping, siteÂ wireframing, research-by-design, process videotaping, and usability testing.
Following research we develop concepts for clients, this can be done internally at Optipop, or by including the client in a structured brainstorming; this decision is based on factors including budget, client time participation, deadlines, and desire. Concepts are presented to clients (and other stakeholders), a direction is chosen, and revisions to the concept begins. On approval, we execute the design, production, branding, or campaign.