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Maximizing Scope and Strategy with Dual Design

Maximizing Scope and Strategy with Dual Design

Jessie Kantor

One of the distinct hallmarks of our creative process is our dual design approach: a collaborative practice born from our constant drive to push the boundaries of efficiency, creativity, and client satisfaction throughout every project phase (i.e., from brief through post-launch support).

While unfolding largely behind the scenes, this technique has become a literal force multiplier internally and externally. This has helped us improve as designers and communicators while “truing back” to our role as client advocate. Here’s a peek into how it works: from the moment we begin working, our design process kicks off with not one, but two lead designers working individually (and with no peeking allowed).

Why? The value isn’t in splitting up or competing, but in maximizing the ground we can cover as a team to support the two best possible design solutions—each fully realized and backed by thorough research and insight.

Inside Our Dual Design Process

Our process isn’t relegated to just design, but includes creative exploration and strategy. After receiving the brief—carefully broken down with cross-functional analysis of UX and wireframe strategies—and before touching a pen or tablet, each designer gets to work researching verticals; conducting competitor analysis; and scouring Pinterest, social media, and emerging trends (everything from animation to parallax design) independently. After due diligence and research, each designer then emerges with a distinct visual interpretation of the brand’s personality and communication style through mood boards.

This results in two entirely different approaches to the website design—not just differing options added on as an afterthought.

When both concepts are complete, we then reassemble as a design team to (supportively and inquisitively) scrutinize every element. It’s essentially an art-school critique with a lot of squinting: What are the pros? What are the cons? Where are the bridges between them? How do they align on top of each other?

And then we adjust the original designs before doing it all over again: this time bringing in outside teams to run the same pressure tests from different perspectives, ensuring we stay grounded in technical project goals and constraints, not just pie-in-the-sky design theory.

Again, the goal throughout isn’t to pit designers against each other or choose favorites—but to fully support two strategic solutions as proponents to get the best possible outcome for our clients.

Benefiting from Multiple Designers

For the client, there’s an economy to seeing two fleshed-out design solutions at once, which allows them to evaluate and contrast options beside each other rather than piecemeal or in a vacuum.

This also allows clients to make more impactful decisions beyond just yes and no, e.g., “let’s go more in that direction,” which speeds up the process and helps foster more engagement and dialogue (not to mention, peace of mind). Typically, the results are more fluid—as we’re accustomed to fitting pieces together at the very first stage rather than trying to retrofit them later.

Internally, the process also helps prevent silos by aligning our creative and technical teams around common challenges, and allows designers to do their best work by creating a structure for testing, introspection, dialogue, and revision.

Really, it’s a win-win.

Supporting Client Decisions

As advocates, our presentations to clients aren’t modeled around selling our design choices, but supporting the decision-making process with the same neutrality and level of detail (e.g., menu actions and modules that get the client thinking about interactivity) used throughout the process. This takes flexibility, as most clients will end up asking to “Frankenstein” their favorite aspects from both models.

Quite often, these resulting “hybrids” come together fluidly; and when they don’t, we collaborate as a team to create harmony and ensure a 360-degree fit cross-functionally—which means another round of comps to test expressions across interfaces, animations, use cases, and perspectives.

The end result? Vital perspective, heightened contrast, and uncovered opportunities (not to mention, efficiency through streamlined workflows).

Ready to cover more ground with dual design? Let's get started.