There is an external order to my web design work that usually begins with some some variant on the following:
- Understanding the project thoroughly - things like its purpose and perceived audience, the vision or message it is meant to convey, special needs, budget and time-line, its relation to other parts of a campaign, desired scope or impact, how much control the client wants or needs, what their tech skills and interests are, etc. etc.
- Honing in and clarifying the structural elements that will be needed - what are the navigation links and how should they line up, technical format, key concepts/words, naming conventions, a rough idea of content, etc. etc.
- Exploring my client's aesthetic preferences; embodying their pre-dispositions, their likes and dislikes, and coming to shared agreements on "look and feel"
These are all elements that I can share with my client, they are what I say "out loud". But lately I've begun to become aware of another, subtler process that is happening internally, right alongside these external steps. As soon as I start gathering the data in step one, if I pay attention I notice that I'm listening more deeply for the things that are not being said: hopes, competing needs, dreams, aversions and aesthetic quirks, what they want the result to "feel" like, etc. etc. and often without my knowing when or how, a process of incubation begins.
Much of the time I'm only half-aware of what is happening, but inevitably, in its own pace, what I can know with my external senses begins to dance with my intuition and the as-yet unknown. The creativity that flows in my underground streams starts to converge and sooner or later images and sense impressions begin to take form.
I learn about them in my dreams or when I sit down to work on a design and something wholly unexpected emerges. Or, I find I'm always thinking of the project on some level and sometimes I catch a reflection of my thoughts or a disguised version of what I'm silently looking for.
As I become more aware of this process, I'm able to move with it more fully. When that happens my work feels lighter and more "fun" while the results get better and more satisfying.
What about you? Do you have an internal work process that runs parallel with your external routine? What's it like? Are you aware of it? How does it make itself known?