Design process: being creative in service of communication

When working on the design process, being creative is in the service of communication and functionality. UX and UI showed how designing is more than knowing how to use a tool. It is putting creativity to work for usability and communication.

Fidel Chaves
6 min read

The design process presents a way of being creative in service of usability and communication. Creativity is a highly valued quality but often misunderstood. The same is true of design thinking. While both require a kind of flexibility of mind, we are talking about different levels of existence: one is a quality, the other is a process.

The creative process

If you are a designer or an artist, you are probably familiar with the creative process. You might not be aware of how it happens—and creativity often works in mysterious ways—but we will try to break it down together into five steps. However, let's bear in mind that the creative process is iterative and much messier than the straightforward way I can describe it on paper. Anyways, here are the five stages of the creative process:


Preparation: absorb as much information as possible, research, and work in a quiet space.


Incubation: let things settle down and connect in the background. There is not a specific time.


Insight: the Eureka moment. They happen more often in low-level activity (walking, in the shower, and so on).


Evaluation: you have to be critical of your ideas. Acquire feedback from outside. Be careful to discriminate between constructive and destructive feedback.


Elaboration: here is where you do the hard work, test, and retest. There is not a magic way to do this: it is all about work.


There is not such a thing as the perfect recipe, and creativity can seem mysterious; by following these steps, you might get closer to coming up with novel ideas and uniting pre-existing concepts with your own mental connections. In my opinion, creativity is a muscle that can be trained, and it is easy to see in a writer. Read, dream, write is a usual loop that authors acknowledge and recommend.


While we know that design implies being creative, its process and communication goals set it apart from the arts and take it closer to engineering.

The design process

The design process is a must-know methodology for anyone that works in the field. It is even on most of the current job postings today. The process is what separates a pro who knows what they are doing and has a structured method from an amateur that improvises. Regardless of the thing you are designing, the design process follows four steps:


Understand what you are trying to solve:set the problem, the goal, and what you are trying to do. You have to establish a clear image of success, your audience, and your competition. Here you do research and interviews. Immerse yourself in the world of your client.


Ideate: brainstorm and come up with a lot of ideas. Remove your barriers, bring good and bad ideas to the table. Don’t fall in love with your first idea. Break it up into a couple of days to let things incubate in the back of your mind.


Validate: try your best to represent your idea. Present it to your client, indicate why you did what you did. You have to justify all your choices. Get feedback. You are never getting it right the first time. You have to listen and document feedback to improve.


Refine:after listening, you have to refine and improve your design. This step is going to be an iterative loop returning to validating your ideas several times.


Even after these steps, you have to know that design never ends. Once it’s out, you can start learning again. Each product will go through this process each time; this is a way to understand more and produce a better design.


You might then see the difference between art and design, specifically in this process. While art can be ambiguous, confusing, and puzzling, design is a way to solve a problem and serves communication. In the design process, you have a creative brief to consider, research, do paperwork, use the tools, make countless presentations, and get a bunch of feedback. I am not saying that being creative isn’t necessary, but it is a required ability, not a sufficient one.

Empathy and design thinking

While creativity implies seeing connections and relationships that may not seem obvious to others, the design process is a problem-solving process. Even if the creative process is very similar in all fields, the designer needs laboratory precision and is most successful when approaching problems systematically. Successful designers and artists often show the same pattern for developing creative solutions and ideas. The difference is how conscious they are of the process they are following.


When making the distinction between art and design, we have to remember the problem-solving objective. While many artists empathize easily and spontaneously, empathy is the first step in design thinking. After formulating and exploring a tentative problem, designers will research, prototype, and refine their project without ever losing sight of their goals: problem-solving, communication, usability. Design usually works in series, while the ability to experiment and learn from mistakes is found in art too. In the design process, it is thought of as a medium to achieve a successful design.

Law of proximity

Let's take a look at the Law of proximity which states that objects that are close to each other tend to be grouped together. It is a rule described almost a century ago by Gestalt psychologists and holds up even today. You can find it and many others on the Law of UX page, but the sole existence of this page might give you hints as to where my reasoning is going.


Design has rules and laws. When studying design, you get a theoretical framework that helps you figure out solutions to problems. In user interface (UI) design, this way of thinking and seeing the world ensures a proper understanding of user needs and how to communicate effectively. You learn how to document and show your creative and design process similarly to the scientific research method. You have to know how to attract the attention of your target audience, evoke specific feelings, and inspire people that use your work. All this while reflecting the brand of your client and staying competitive with other creative designers.


At Awkbit, we know the importance of having a dedicated designer that thinks with a unique framework inside our team. Design thinking and its process brings valuable insights to the table, innovating and building upon our branch. Are you in need of a dedicated designer? Do you want to see how the design process can creatively help your brand?

Reach Out!

Sources & further reading