The Newman Design Process Squiggle

Damien Newman:

Years ago I dropped a simple illustration into a proposal to convey the design process to a client. It was meant to illustrate the characteristics of the process we were to embark on, making it clear to them that it might be uncertain in the beginning, but in the end we’d focus on a single point of clarity. It seemed to work. And from then on, I’ve used it since. Many many times.

My father told me that the design process started with the abstract, moved to the concept and then finally the design. So I used to use these three words, back in the day, to convey the process of design to my unsuspecting clients. It wasn’t as effective — even if I knew what it meant. So I found myself saying, “Here — it looks like this…” and drawing the squiggle.

I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without ever seeing this before, but it’s brilliant in its clarity and obvious truth. When I make something new, I don’t expect to jump right to the design, but I do feel like I should be able to start with the concept. I’m repulsed by the uncertainty and messiness of that first stage, but this diagram is a wonderful reminder that it is unavoidable. Might as well just dive in. Embrace the unavoidable.

I really could have used this a few weeks ago for a new thing I’m working on now.

Update: Newman has a dedicated website for the illustration, which he’s made available under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, 1 May 2020