Forward Concept Design & Planning


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A presentation I made in 2011 to train old and new colleagues in the art of planning and concept design. This is the model I've been using for the last 10 years, and we wanted to share this to everyone.

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Forward Concept Design & Planning

  1. 1. Concept Design 101Turning ideas into physical plansOctober 12th 2012, updated Nov 15thFWD Helsi nki Oy tel: +358 20 794 0180 Conf identia l We de sign h appy custome rsKai saniemenkat u 6 A www.f ©2012 FWD Helsinki00100, Hels ink i Fin land in fo@fwd. fi All r ights re se rve d
  2. 2. This presentation was originally done for internal purposes,teaching planning & concept design. It’s been around for a year now and we thought to share it with the world. We hope this can help you in some way. Markus Sandelin - in Helsinki, October 10th 2012
  3. 3. { 1 The world has changed Intro The customers haven’t 2 changed { Stop pushing problems, The importance ofThe point 3 4 start solving them My First Concept® 5 6 presenting well The usual end results { Support 7 Good tools are necessary
  4. 4. 1 The world has changed
  5. 5. The world has become more complicated during the last 15years with the web. This complication does not however mean that things are any more difficult than they used to be. It just means that we have to pay attention to more things.
  6. 6. The tasks themselves have become simpler, but the amount of those tasks have multiplied exponentially together with the unlimited amount of data available to be used in said tasks.
  7. 7. It isn’t only about who can produce the best content or visual design. The winners will be those who can use and filteralready existing information in the right place and at the right time.
  8. 8. The world has also become more measurable. Before we pretty much just knew the number of site visitors, but now we know what the users are doing, what they’re buying, where they came from and where they continued after their action.
  9. 9. Business consultants Public Relations Event marketing agencies agencies Analytics companies Advertising agencies Usability testers Translation agencies Tech vendors Local agencies Call centers Social media agencies Communications agencies Before During AfterThe world has changed, making it very hard to do everything alone.
  10. 10. Most of the large portal building companies have broken topieces and are now independent agencies and products. We have to learn to play together or face extinction.
  11. 11. Different browsers, devices and technologies do createdifferent demands, but they haven’t been limiting or slowing our progress for years – unless we let them do so.
  12. 12. The existing complexity of applications and products hasmade the waterfall design model very expensive to work with.A single person is probably unable to take a project from start to finish anymore.
  13. 13. Users are expecting personal services and why wouldn’t weserve them? Use cases and use needs have a great importancewhen we’re choosing the winners and losers with our projects.
  14. 14. The user must have a role in a web service. If it isn’t so, who is the service designed for?
  15. 15. The web is making money and has been for a while. No onewishing to succeed online can design anything without taking business facts and figures into consideration and understanding their implications.
  16. 16. The end result is still always the same it ever was, our job is to solve our client’s problem. Before we can do that, we have to always do – understand that problem.
  17. 17. 2 The customers haven’t changed
  18. 18. Does anyone remember how good customer briefings were 10 years ago?
  19. 19. They weren’t very good. Even then, when we were making much simpler things.
  20. 20. Because the general level of customer briefing is the same and the world has become much more complicated, we are in a situation where we receive less and less information fromclients in the first phases. This means that we as designers will have to carry the torch even more than before.
  21. 21. As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot more players on thepitch as well. If we assume that they share our ambition and goals, we’re sawing our own ladder.
  22. 22. We and everyone in the project needs to have a clear picture and responsibility of the whole if we really want to make a change and create some positive results.
  23. 23. We are the architects of our customers house.
  24. 24. This means that we have to be more active, more curious andeven more creative than ever before. Luckily that too is much easier today.
  25. 25. Our customers want stuff. Our job is to help them understand, reach and love their needs, not just their wants.
  26. 26. Good buyers are very rare. Even rarer than our industry daresto admit. The lure of different channels and pre-made solutions is strong, and usually the path to the dark side.
  27. 27. The more complicated the problem, the simpler our solution should be.
  28. 28. This usually means finding several solutions that have to work like Lego bricks, joining together when necessary. In order to do this, we always have to find the lowest common denominator.
  29. 29. 3 Stop pushing problems, start solving them
  30. 30. What comes to project management, it is impossible to be toothorough, enthusiastic or helpful. Assumption is the capital sin in any failed project.
  31. 31. Often times when the client changes their mind, they are not even aware they have done that. The change originates fromthe difference of our assumption and the client’s thoughts. It’s easier to blame the client.
  32. 32. When someone disagrees with us, especially the client, it doesn’t automatically mean that we should change ouropinion. It also doesn’t mean that the other person is wrong. The strongest argument wins.
  33. 33. Differences of opinion are just yet another problem waiting to be solved. Together with our colleagues and our clients. Wehave to understand the core of the problem and find a solution for it, curing the cause, not the symptoms.
  34. 34. Blaming, whining, finger pointing or general grumpinessdoesn’t help. These kinds of situations are the most common stagnation and fail points in projects and failing can begin.
  35. 35. And if you didn’t understand it yet, the same rules apply strongly to internal work as well.
  36. 36. You cannot solve a problem before you understand it.
  37. 37. 4 My First Concept®
  38. 38. When we talk about a concept, we mean an idea opened upinto concrete things. Some kind of angle or solution to a known problem.
  39. 39. The first step in any concept is recognizing that problem. Without that you cannot succeed.
  40. 40. We recognize a problem with the question “why?”
  41. 41. Why are you doing a project like this? Why have you created this kind of brief/suggestion/request for proposal?
  42. 42. In order to find the problem, the answer your looking for has to be concrete, measurable and understandable. Not an abstract concept that even the client doesn’t believe in. If you can’t quantify the problem, you haven’t probably found it yet.
  43. 43. Very rarely there is a single problem. There are many, in different shapes, importance and with different businesseffects. Prioritization is your main tool in this phase. A simpleproblem can be much more important than a complicated one.
  44. 44. The moment you really understand the problem, the concept will reveal itself to you. That is the secret of good concept design.
  45. 45. The second question in forming a concept is “what?”
  46. 46. What is being done to solve the problem? What has alreadybeen done? What metrics do we have? What data can we use?What has the competition done? What can we learn from other industries? What can we learn from our own clients? What internal things has the client done before to fix things?
  47. 47. By doing this we create a collection of knowledge, data, needs, wants, experiences, viewpoints and different beginnings.
  48. 48. So we have created an image with problems in the center, surrounded by different solution possibilities.
  49. 49. Armed with this information we can begin our work inthinking, solving and opening up how these problems can be solved and how our solutions mix together.
  50. 50. Dividing the problems, possibilities and concrete solutions intosmall enough parts it is much easier to evaluate work amounts, risks and schedules.
  51. 51. We cannot bypass these steps. Without this model and thesequestions were are guessing and assuming, which will lead to failure.
  52. 52. Understanding the Concrete solutionsRecognizing problems, whole, the history and prioritized and their finding needs finding possible presentation solutions for problems Why? What? How?
  53. 53. 5 The importance of presenting well
  54. 54. When we know the problems, possible solutions and concretesuggestions, we have to be able to present them simply enough to others in order to succeed.
  55. 55. Most customers don’t give a damn about our brand, visualmood or pretty much anything else. If those things support the facts and the presentation, it’s nice, but otherwise pointless.
  56. 56. The language has to be understandable by anyone, the baselevel should be directed to the customer. However, no one will complain if your presentation is better and clearer than they expect. A good presentation makes you look good.
  57. 57. The grammar should be faultless. (or at least as faultless as possible)
  58. 58. If you’re adding something to a presentation done by someone else, take something out as well and let that someone know. This will help with version control and overall quality. Also remember to give credit when it’s due.
  59. 59. Illustration and visual style should be in harmony with the whole and especially with the message being presented. Allgraphs, prices and schedules have to be understood even by a third party and their style should be similar throughout the presentation.
  60. 60. The presentation is not just the file or the two hours spentpresenting it, it’s the whole process of invitations, deliveries and file sharing. Don’t try to send too big files in the mail.
  61. 61. Presenting itself is an art of its own which is only learnedthrough practice. Learning the correct rhythm and breathing helps a lot in nerve control and gives you the confidence to focus in the message. They will also focus on your body language, so rehearse standing up as well.
  62. 62. If you don’t have a role in the presentation or the meeting,think about your participation as well. If you have a point or an opinion to deliver, do that and do it well. If not, go do some work instead.
  63. 63. Your presentation does not have to be a PowerPoint.
  64. 64. 6 The usual end results
  65. 65. When our clients expect an offer from us, we have to create ahigh level concept before that. With that we can create a cost and time estimate.
  66. 66. In order to create a concept, this process is a good tool to getstarted so we can increase our awareness to the required level and create an internal briefing.
  67. 67. A high level concept is good to build directly into a mind map,presentation or even a textual story. With this it’s easier to stay with it and focus on the right things.
  68. 68. A good concept answers to all three questions with sufficientaccuracy. It answers why the project is being done, pointing out the problems. It answers the question of what solutions wehave identified and will be proposing after our prioritizing and it will have an opinion on how these solutions should be implemented.
  69. 69. Anyone should be able to create at least an initial high level concept from zero or from a client briefing.
  70. 70. 7 Good tools are necessary
  71. 71. Good tools are needed in order to work, but even more important is learning to use those tools properly. This makesyou an efficient concept designer who can teach others as well.
  72. 72. There are many tools for many purposes. We use drawing tools such as OmniGraffle and mind mapping tools such as MindNode. Understanding numbers is much easier with a spreadsheet tools like Excel or Numbers and we use Keynote for our presentations.
  73. 73. You can and should be learning your tools constantly, not justcopy other’s materials to your own, creating unusable files for others.
  74. 74. You are sitting next to a person who can probably help you.
  75. 75. Finally: The web is full of information and its search engines are your most important tools. Use them well.
  76. 76. Kiitos For further information:Tack Markus Sandelin Designer +358 44 36 99 887Thanks