Push and Pull — Design Process

Perfecting every detail but keeping an eye on the big picture at the same time is an art few designers master. This is an approach to structure my design process in a way it benefits the creative process and therefore the final product.

Form follows function — Horatio Greenough

This quote is very popular in the creative industry and shaped the way we think and prosecute design. Without a doubt form/design should never stand in the way of a products function neither should it act as decoration, but in todays age and with design focusing more and more on digital experiences we should go further:

Form should not follow function — Form should enhance function.

When design is key to a well working and satisfying user-experience, a one way process won’t be enough. You’ll have to change your point of view every now and then. Change it up by getting rid of the linear process and replace it with a process that is multidimensional.


Defining conditions, target groups and aims of the project. Collecting these specifications in a carefully put together briefing.

Pull in information from all possible sources, the more data collected the smoother the creation of a concept will be.
Push by asking cheeky and painful questions — stepping out of the comfort zone. In the end this is asking for information and deeper insights from the client. Set the base for innovation by questioning old habits and structures.

Documenting the current state is crucial for later comparison and reflection.


Developing a detailed concept, fitting custom needs and expectations. Setting the base for a successful implementation.

Whilst brainstorming, every idea is valuable no matter how minor or crazy it seems. Key is to create a broad variety of ideas that later can be combined and reengineered. Resulting in a concept made out of the best and most fitting parts. This process can happen in several dimensions or branches — pushing and pulling into each other. Constantly creating and constantly dumping previous work as well.

inspired by GitHub — article on design-version-management to be done 💪

Pull in the client at main decisions to keep him up to date and to make sure he understands how the final product came together. Eventually curate the collection for the most promising concepts.

Design and primarily the conceptual phase of it isn’t a simple one-sided service. It requires a lot of communication and strong relation of client and creative. Periodical communication with the client will benefit both parties.

Complex ideas can be tested by creating a dummy. Creating a simplified version may also help understand future issues and prevent painful troubleshooting.


Designing and developing a quality solution for a great user experience.

Finally it’s time to develop the product. Carefully put together the parts whilst constantly revisiting the purpose and structure from which the concept originated. Technical expertise and being up to date with the industries latest evolutions will result in a design that recipients value and feel familiar with. Design, not being decoration — but leading the user as well as complimenting the function. Adding meaning to the function to increase satisfaction of users is a good practice and will keep them loyal.

Broken down:
“Push and pull” is finding balance between focus and keeping the big picture. Always reflecting, always moving.

Getting back to the quote:
When purpose is to form opinion, raw function is not enough. A story to compliment and point out the essence of whatever you want to get across will strengthen your presentation.

Learn more about Stories here.

Talking about Design is great. Creating Design is even better. So let’s get practical: sebastianwinter-design.de

Designer & Code Enthusiast at Strichpunkt Design

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