Processes, Design, and Spreadsheets

November 18, 2012 · Post

I was watching the documentary Objectified recently and was struck by Jonathan Ive’s comments about spending a great deal of time designing the processes to make the actual product that they had designed. I realized that I also spend a great deal of time designing processes. Take, for example, designing a website. A website isn’t a static design, such as a poster. It’s an interactive interface to a person or company’s brand (Some have argued that it is the brand). Updating, changing, and adding content to a website can involve multiple processes.

When designing a website, I believe that the designer’s role isn’t just to design the process of the target audience interacting with the person or company; the designer must also consider and design how the client interacts with the website itself. What are the processes that they must follow to add or update content? Designing, developing, and documenting those processes can help a client understand and appreciate the finished project even more.

Random Examples

While pondering how much time I spend designing processes, a couple of recent events came to mind. One of them was needing to make a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are generally so ugly. Just cold, hard data in disconnected places with no visual cues. I found myself unable to even work on it until I had made that data presentable and understandable. I also found myself designing the processes of achieving that very goal, such as setting up default paragraph styles and header styles, how to duplicate and differentiate sections, and how to implement and add in the data so that it could happen efficiently. While it took a little more effort to get the spreadsheet started, considering and going through designing the process saved my time and energy in the end.

Another example would be how I work in Photoshop. As the designer and developer of an Ecommerce website with 600+ products, I often find myself performing very repetitious imaging tasks. I usually create multiple Photoshop Actions to ease the workload. I know it isn’t uncommon to use Photoshop Actions to help make a workflow easier and faster, but I was considering how much thought goes into creating processes in order to make a larger design project come together.

What’s the point of all of this? More or less, just thinking out loud. Also, it could be to decide what the course of the ship should be, so to speak. I find myself fascinated with how much I enjoy the process of designing processes. It’s good problem solving. And it makes me wonder if it’s something I should be considering for the next step in my career.