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  • January 7, 2016

Switching it up

A few weeks ago, I left my comfortable, everyday life in Philadelphia to travel by myself to Southeast Asia. Decorative Illustration I learned about the culture and history of the areas I traveled to, but the most important lesson I took away was that it’s necessary to switch up my normal ways of life in order to grow. When I came back to the States (and work), my fellow designer Dana and I were given the opportunity to – well, wouldn’t you know it? – literally switch it up.

The parameters of switch design

We were presented with an atypical project; a limited number of content types on a homepage allowed us to focus less on content strategy and more on pure aesthetic design. We needed a lot of ideas in three days to design two homepage concepts based on two different grid systems and extend a flexible brand in meaningful ways. So, our design director asked us to do switch design, a process based off handing our designs to our partner and getting them back the next day.

Three quick days

During our company’s first experience with switch design, one designer created two concepts and then handed those off to the other. But on our Day 1, we both worked to create one design each with all content, typographic choices, decisions on the usage of brand colors, and a layout/grid system. This allowed each design to look more unique from one another. On Day 2, the other designer looked at the comp with fresh eyes and inspiration. On Day 3, we got our concepts back. We both felt positive about the changes that were made. We each had implemented our own aesthetic sensibilities, which then gave us new ideas and a better understanding of how to progress the design. At the end of Day 3, we accepted, revised, and/or rejected the other designer’s changes and created a mobile design.

Learning something

One of the biggest differences from our normal process was that we were co-creating. But because Dana and I often feel challenged by initial design concepts, having a reliable partner who builds off your work and offers new ideas helped both of us revise our designs. Not having experience with switch design gave us more creative freedom since we didn’t have a rulebook or prior knowledge of process. In the end, the process positively impacted the project. We were proud that we both contributed to two distinct and polished designs. And throughout the process, working on each other’s designs didn’t feel intrusive; it felt fluid and right – like a stronger visual form of feedback.

Similar to travel, a new process promotes open-mindedness. Sometimes we’re hesitant to try something new because we worry about how it might affect timelines or budget. And maybe in the end, you don’t use that process again, but you will gain experience and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. So go ahead; travel to Cambodia and eat a tarantula … or welcome a new process into your workflow.

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