Now we are moving onto the Elimination phase.
This is where we take the best solutions from the Creative Phase and choose the ONE design to work up as our final solution.
I personally feel that working up a selection of alternatives designs for the client to pick from is using up time and energy that could be better spent developing one solution.
If you have done things correctly, then you have done your research, brainstormed effectively and have produced creative designs that will both solve the client problems and help them achieve their goals.
Be a professional and take ownership of the process
You are the professional, the client has chosen you to find a solution to their problems based on your expertise. No other industry would offer you alternatives to pick from, so why should this be any different?
Would you feel confident if a Doctor gave you 3 surgery options and asked you to pick? You’d be terrified and say - "Doc, you’re the expert, I trust you to do what’s best for me."
Design should be the same.
If you want to be taken seriously and respected as a professional, then take responsibility of the project and instill confidence in the client by designing one solution.
To help achieve this, I have developed a fairly brutal elimination system...
Throughout the whole process I have kept the client’s goals and problems at the forefront of everything I do, so I am confident that the designs being put forward for elimination all fit the brief.
Firstly, I take all of my preferred solutions made during the creation phase and put a one design on a single page in Keynote (or Powerpoint). Once I have my final selection, I put them through a high speed ‘yes or no' process of elimination.
The question I always ask is “Does this solve the client problems and/or help them achieve their goals?”. If it does then it stays, if not, it gets deleted.
I take under 5 seconds to make this decision.
It is based on experience and intuition, but is rooted in being effective and practical.
Once they are gone, they are gone. I tend to not go back but instead appreciate their role in improving me as a designer and the skills learned will be taken forward into my next project.
“Would this work in my portfolio?”
Now that I am left with my final solutions that all address the client’s goals and problems, I need to choose the solution that works best for me, that I will enjoy bringing to life and will compliment what I already have.
From each project I am always looking to get several things:
- A solution for the client
- Something that will improve my portfolio
- A great case study
- A glowing testimonial
By asking these 2 questions during the elimination process, I make sure I am on course to achieve all of my objectives.
I will continue this until I have my final design. Like I said it is brutal and like a knock out tournament, not always the ‘best’ ones win, but the most effective ones do.
But what if you eliminate all of your designs?
This can and does regularly happen. This is where your time management and buffers come into play. You are able to go back to your research and start creating again.
This time it will be quicker as you have gained more experience and know where you went wrong last time. Go back and repeat the steps until you have something that is good enough to survive the elimination process.
The key to avoiding this is to keep in mind what the client needs and to not be scared of running out of time and confirming to a design you don't like. Use your time buffers and maintain standards. It will happen less and less over time as you improve.
To sum up:
1) Keep the clients goals and problems at the forefront of your elimination process.
2) Don't overthink it. Use your intuition and experience to pick from all of those that qualify from point 1.
3) Don't worry of you eliminate all designs. You are maintaining high standards and being the professional that clients respect and want to work with because you are putting their needs and priorities ahead of your own.
4) Use your time buffers to come up with new designs.