Point + Periphery
Applying a systems-based methodology to a human-centered, iterative design cycle
Design Cycle Overview
Point and Periphery is a systems-based modeling methodology that leverages a Both/And approach to design. It asks to bare in the mind the multi-directional flow of information that is occurring at any one time. I modeled this circular process while in Graduate school based on my prior experience and have deeply integrated in design practice.
The visualization bellow suggests the continuous nature of information as the design team learns. The point (focus of the project) is continually becoming more clear as we source insights from the periphery, (building on the collective research that continuously fuels the design process forward).
The approach allows for the proper framing of an issues by examining the focus (point) and the details at the edge (periphery), leading to the emergence of new insights.
Divergent, exploratory, truth-seeking
The core of any design challenge is to be persistently sought after and better understood. This exploratory quest is driven to seek true meaning by way of the audience we are intending to serve – to further illuminate the truth of a problem often means going to the far reaches to seek answers – the edge of the space that seeks to clarify itself most freely. This form of discovery requires a boots-on-the ground connection to the problem in focus and remains the most essential form of discovery – leading to a more clear and robust formulation of data gathering. It is within the empathize phase that we look to illuminate human-centric behavior.
- Go to the context — immerse yourself in situ (exploring the true nature of the environment)
- Strive to seek meaning — be open to new experiences and areas of exploration to further illuminate human behavior
- Gain depth of understanding — build a shared sense of knowledge through varying perspectives
The emergence phase of design provides the basis for further understanding the context and overall knowledge base of the audience in focus. Beginning the design phase by going to the context of the audience ensures we build a true sense of the environment — one that is factual — helping to remove our designer bias.
Convergent, distilled, clarified, informed
The distillation of research requires a relenting focus – examining both the molecule (micro) and expansively cast outward (macro) to that of the region. Encapsulating the essence of “true” data is liken to the netting of a butterfly, requiring a delicate persistence over time and space. It is here where we seek to distill the true essence of the data we have gathered – extracting meaning out of the abstract – informing the design process while further illuminating the path towards a validated problem space.
- Look for the non-obvious — often the most impactful findings come from the edge least likely places
- Suspend the need to solve — refrain from solving prematurely with data capture. Ask, “have we gone to the periphery?”
- Continuously parse your findings — connect the dots through applied synthesis and remain open to new information
The Encapsulate phase of design is oriented around the convergence of research — to distill and clarify how generative and evaluative user-centered and business research is to inform the design process — instilling confidence that the research will support the eventual design solution.
Magnetized, focused, illuminated
The kinesthetic pulse of design is to be sourced from its most natural propellant. This is where a designs formulaic lattice takes shape. Clarifying how research informs the challenge being solved and fuels the early beginnings of design phase. It is here where a designs full potential is illuminate and rendered visible and focused.
- Validate the problem space — does the solution we are looking to build deserve to exist? What problem is it solving?
- Crystalize research takeaways — reflect on the core insights that will due the design phase
- Research as a basis for design — the illumination of design insights should be clear prior to design
The Enlighten phase of design is oriented around the suspend the immediate movement into the design phase. It is a rather brief time interval that’s purpose is to provide clarity, align the design teams rhythm. Taking the necessary time and space to unify the message of research will further accentuate and proven the team forward into the design phase.
Fueled, sourced, insightfully propelled
The basis by which a design takes root is only as strong as the research that backs it. Envisioning a potential design solution begins with a deep understanding of the problem space and the target audience audience in view. The ideation phase of design ought to be sourced fully by way of the key insights from prior phases – leveraging insights that served as the inception of early exploratory design. It is here where we diverge once again – exploring a multitude of design solutions to garner a wide net of possibilities before distilling towards a singular focus.
- Construct product principles — leverage values-based, researched backed set of principles to guide decision-making
- Alpha, Beta, Charlie — build prototypes with varying differentials to build a range of possibilities
- Test, test, and test again — run multiple rounds of usability testing with the intended audience to garner overall usability of the product
The Envisage phase of design is where the product solution comes to life! Beginning with early ideation, the concept quickly advances to a working prototype that can be test and learned from, helping shape the overall product and specific features therein. This is integral to practicing an iterative approach that consistently looks to what is and what isn’t working, thus reducing overall risk.
Effective, clarifying, precise, electrifying
Establishing the most effective approach to the lifecycle of design and development is a constant evolutionary process. Implementation is a key attribute to all declarative product design decisions (from early collaboration to a successful hand off). Building a lasting reciprocal relationship as a team is imperative to forging a cohesive workflow. It is here where we look to forge an electrifying stance in our collective team environs. The drive towards precision is an endless quest- to continuously clarify and unify the design process forthward.
- Continuous communication — extend the conversation to the broader team early and often in the product process
- Alliance building — Cast a wide and deep net of connectivity to various stakeholder groups
- Agnostically adaptive — Thrive in the ability to continuously adapt alongside team priorities
The Execute phase of design continuously seeks to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the product design workflow. This process of building clear communication between design and development is integral to progressively enhancing the iterative product lifecycle.