Look at slow design like a fine wine, which matures and tastes so much more refined as a result of time and patience. The quality of wine will depend upon a multitude of factors: choosing an appropriate climate to grow your grapes, the soil substance, when the grape is ripe, fermentation and bottling! Fast design may be associated with a Mc Donald’s milkshake…it is produced in the shake of a hat and satisfies your short term craving but is it actually good for you in the long term? Anyway more on this later…
What is Slow Design?
Slow design is a relatively new concept of design thinking which basically looks at promoting a longer design process. Currently I would say in a web project design actually only takes up a small percentage of the actual time of the overall project (in comparison to the coding and backend work on the site). However it is just as critical as the backend stuff and it is about time that it occupied a larger chunk of time within the project plan.
Slow design= Longer design processes with more time for research, contemplation, real life impact tests and fine tuning. Time to think deeply about a problem.
Software creates a layer of separation between you and your work
I was listening to the big web show podcast the other day and they were talking about the ideas / creative process through doodling. Sunni brown talked about the power of doodling and how this process made are minds more active. It got me thinking about going back to basics, stripping away complex design programmes like Photoshop and basically staying away from the screen until you have a solution in your head. One of the reasons we respond more creatively away from screen is that our mind responds more creatively to things that are human, imperfect…the screen acts as a boundary to this process.
We as web designers spend the majority of our time at screen and online but I think we need to be spending more of our time offline away from the screen. The internet is nearly all visual thinking (which is one of the most basic levels of thinking). Can you really think critically at the screen? I would suggest not.
Quick and lazy?
Being quick can often force you to think less about the details and instead encourages you to reuse elements like icons and template. Now there is nothing wrong with this as it is often a very practical solution. It can just get to a point where it becomes a habit and makes us lazy when a bespoke solution would be much better.
This blog is a perfect example if I’d just started thinking about this article today rather than earlier in the week then I’m sure my case for slow design would be a lot less in depth.
The tortoise and the hare and the sheep
It is almost a case of the tortoise and the hare. And this analogy can also apply to the success of your business as well. Fast designers will usually reside in web design agencies which place an emphasis on a quick turnaround in order to make as much profit as possible. In effect these agencies become production lines of design where their short term profit will no doubt be good…the tortoise plays the longer game. Repeat business comes from producing consistently great work for your clients. In reality though many of you may be somewhere in between the tortoise and the hare…maybe a medium paced creature like a sheep?
The hierarchy of thinking skills
In the hierarchy of thinking, critical thinking…(which is more closely related to slow design) is towards the top of the graph, whereas visual thinking is the most basic level of thinking and this is more closely related to quick design). Take a quick look at the chart below:
Slower = More refined; it’s somewhat like a fine wine…
Doing things faster equals lower quality. In order to explore the best most innovative ideas we have to think deeply. Leaving your work and coming back the next day is a great way to do this. Without time there would be no time for this phase of contemplation. How often have you struggled on a problem left it alone…come back the next day and been like eureka!? This is an example of allowing your subconscious brain do the work for you. Obviously I’m not sating work slower all the time once you have thought in depth then you can go fast as you have thought about the problem and know the path you have to take…fill your boots sir (or maiden)!
Polish your designs
Slowing things down also allows time for us to polish in contrast to rushing which leaves you with a design which looks rushed; there is no hiding from this. Obviously we all have deadlines to deal with, but constantly rushing towards deadlines may harm our creativity in the long term.Slow design also allows time for experimentation rather than playing safe due to time constraints.
Not more wine talk?
Remember just like a fine wine, your design should change and improve as it ages…until finally it is ready to drink! Ahhh…bliss!!!