What my design process taught me


3 min read

I'm a designer, and my Bachelor degree is B.S (Bachelor of Science). My primary subject at the university was Applied Physics. So the most frequently asked question in my professional career is 'how did you become a designer from a physics student?'

My answer is nearly always the same: I found that I didn't like physics very much in the second year so I started to learn design skills by myself and managed to graduate and got the degree. But I started my first job as a designer, blablabla. And my science background gave me rational thinking of doing things, including design. That's true. Usually, that's the end of the topic.

Today I prepared an interview next week. I thought about the questions might be asked, and then thinking about my design process, which is highly possible to be asked. My design process is quite simple: gather, define, explore, refine, build, learn. I'll explain each step in another note, and I'd like to focus on the second step: define.

After gathering enough data, I will define the problem need to be solved, and also define the constraint. When I review my design process, I found the constraint seems more important to me. It was always the first things I consider in the define stage.

My first design job is a graphic designer for package design. That job requires you to know the constraint of materials, printing process at first. Otherwise, your design might be just some fancy visual concept, which can't be made for real.

Then I worked as a digital product designer for app product design. When I started any project, for the clients or our team, I always check with the dev guys about the feasibility from the tech perspective. Take iBeads for example, after the idea inspired by a joke, I asked my dev partner to test if the tapping on AppleWatch could be counted by paired iPhone. When the feasibility was confirmed, I then started to design part.

So back to the very beginning, learning physics for more than 4 years gave me a solid practical thinking foundation, though I didn't realize it, until now.

I used to think learning physics as the major subject was one of my weakness because I 'wasted' more than 4 years on a subject that I didn't like a lot. What if I spend the same 4 years on learning design?

Now I know, learning physics at the university is not my weakness as a designer. On the contrary, it is my strength. I have a better rational, practical thinking than design students who only study design.

Now I feel exactly as Steve Jobs said at his famous Standford Speech: everything happened to you in your life has a connection.

That's why I can't wait to write it down with a lot of grammar mistakes to share.

Thanks for reading, and the same advice to you: everything happened to you in your life has a connection. If it seems useless or not helpful, wait a while, and think again.

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