Designing for an Uncomfortable Process

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new service, product or platform—building something new is tough. This process is often messy, ambiguous and surprisingly emotional for even the most seasoned of concept development gurus.

We illustrated both the practical and emotional journey our clients typically experience in developing innovation concepts, depicted as an information diagram, which act as conversation starters around this tumultuous journey. We wanted to be honest, empathetic and upfront with what they should prepare for, before we got too lost in the nitty gritty details of each phase.

We used the first visualization to create a series of narratives around the types of emotions and anxieties that users might experience as they start to build a new idea. While the process is spontaneous, inventive and oftentimes ambiguous, there are in fact a series of distinct moments where emotions will be heightened regardless of the type of project. We wanted to name these at the outset to make them more discussable during the project.

This initial diagrammatic illustration also provides an overview of the tools, touch points and outputs that they will use as they move through the process. Partnering the emotional journey (which is rooted in ambiguity) with the tools we use to explore and resolve that uncertainty helps reinforce why we need discipline in innovation—rather than relaying on spontaneous inspiration.

The second visualization has been designed to be more tactical and to really demonstrate the types of activities that groups will undertake in order to get to the next stage. This end-to-end overview helps to lay further foundation for what users can expects as they move forward.

It’s easy to forget about the power of empathy when designing seemingly menial objects, like a brochure or a poster. This series of diagrammatic illustrations around the concept development, however, demonstrates the potential of being thoughtful with everything that we design. Frankly, we can always be more empathetic towards our users. They face enough ambiguity during the innovation process—let’s not pile on with more uncertainty about the path they need to follow.