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Using an iterative design process at Center Centre

By Summer Kohlhorst

Using an iterative design process at Center Centre

At Center Centre, we use an iterative design process for just about everything we do. Iterating allows us to measure our progress and learn from our mistakes. We test big ideas using iteration. We also fine tune details like wording, size, and even color through iteration.

Working with color through iteration

As Center Centre’s in-house designer, I led the design of our first outdoor banner. Throughout this project, I collaborated with Scenic City Signs, a sign and graphics company in Chattanooga. We went through many design iterations before finding the right colors and the right design for our banner.

I find it extremely beneficial to work through the iteration process with experts and mentors. For the banner project, I choose to collaborate with Scenic City Signs in Chattanooga. I knew their domain knowledge of the printing processes would help me to make better design decisions. Having a proper sounding board can help you as the designer feel more confident about your final design.

Together, Scenic City Signs and I used this iterative process to choose the right colors:

  • Plan a color.
  • Implement the color outdoors as a test. (We place it temporarily on the wall and view it from different distances.)
  • Measure how closely the color matches our brand colors.
  • Learn from the process to determine the next step.

Pantone colors and sigange I used these strips to choose the correct PANTONE blue and purple.

Throughout this process, I learned more by working with an expert than I would have learned by myself. I made more confident decisions. I also learned a few tricks about creating outdoor signage:

  • As colors vary from print to screen, they also vary on textures of print materials. The textured material on our sign makes Center Centre’s Pantone purple look lighter than it should. We used a darker shade of purple to adjust for the color difference.
  • Center Centre’s Pantone blue looks great indoors under our LED lights. However, when you view it outdoors in sunlight, our blue looks warmer than it looks inside. Through iteration, we found a Pantone blue that looks cooler and great in the sun.

The Center Centre outdoor banner

Using an iterative process with our students

After we printed, completed, and installed the banner, Eddie, a print professional at Scenic City signs, said to me, “Please tell me you’ll teach students the difference between screen colors and print colors.”

I smiled.

Our curriculum doesn’t include print design, but our students will learn about the use of color when designing for screens. Our students will also learn to develop their designs using an iterative process.

Students will learn when to work with experts. At some point during their time at Center Centre or during their careers, they’ll encounter projects that require mentorship from someone with more experience. Knowing when to consult an expert and when to try something on your own is an invaluable skill.

Apply to be a student

Do you want to learn from leading industry experts? Would you like to learn more about working through problems using an iteration process? Become a Center Centre student. View our full program or apply today.

Figure out how you learn best

By Jessica Ivins

Figure out how you learn best

If you’re like me, you’ve probably set a few goals for the new year. Maybe you want to add more healthful foods to your diet. Maybe you want to get better at speaking a second language. Maybe you want to learn a new skill to help you grow professionally.

As UX designers, we often need to learn new skills. Even if we don’t realize it, we’re constantly learning.

We often learn things when we need to. Remember the last time you were in a crunch to learn something so you could solve a new problem, or solve a familiar problem with a better solution? You might have learned something quickly, applied it right away, and moved on with your day. You might not have payed attention to your process of learning.

Over the next year, take a few moments to pause and think about how you learn best. Then, consider how to apply your successful learning approaches the next time you need to learn something new.

Think: About a recent successful learning experience

Think about the last time you learned something successfully. How did you learn it? Did you learn by reading a book? Did you learn from someone else on your team? Did you learn by watching a presentation, then diving into the problem?

Ask: Why was this learning experience successful?

Once you think of a successful learning experience, ask yourself, why was this learning approach successful? Could I use this approach again in the future and achieve the results I want?

For example, maybe you had to learn a new prototyping tool, like Sketch. Because your colleague uses Sketch often, you asked her for a quick tutorial. She sat down with you for 10 minutes, got you up and running, and voila! You were familiar enough with Sketch to continue learning the tool on your own. All you needed was some assistance to get up and running. You needed a mentor who could get you over the initial hump, and then you were on your way.

Ask: When would I use this approach again in the future?

Ask yourself, when would I use this learning approach again in the future? If I had to learn another design tool or prototyping tool, would I seek a mentor for help? Or would I use another approach? Would a mentor work well for a learning something other than a new tool? What if I had to learn a tool, but no one was available to help me? What if I had to learn the basics of content strategy, which is very different from learning a new tool? Would a mentor be effective for that, too?

The more you focus on your process of learning, the more you understand how you learn. This knowledge leads to better and longer-lasting learning.