The first 4 questions experts ask themselves before designing anything

Designers sketching before making the final design

While you may think that designers create purely from the heart, many balance their creative flair with careful pragmatism and problem-solving skills. See below for tips on how to think like a designer.

Whether you’ve never designed anything before, or consider yourself a design wizard, there are a few brainstorming principles you can start every design project with in order to help you create a design that clearly communicates what you are trying to say.

In fact, many designers follow these rules when creating a design. They do this to organize their ideas and simplify what they are trying to achieve—and this is even before they put pen to paper. If you’re wanting to create a design, but don’t know where to begin, by asking yourself the below questions, you will start to think like a designer and make the design process a lot easier for yourself.

1. Ask yourself: What is the purpose of my design?

It may surprise you to learn that graphic design has a very similar process to product design because both attempt to solve a problem or paint point. The first place to start when creating a design is to give your project a clear and simple headline. This way, later in the project, if you hit a creative roadblock or find yourself confused, this headline can serve as your overarching goal that helps shape your design choices.

If you’re designing an Instagram image, your headline could be: A bold and bright Instagram tile to help promote my next event. In this headline, you have outlined the type of design, the medium you want to promote it on, and the purpose of your design.

2. Ask yourself: What already exists?

The next step, (despite how excited you are to start choosing templates and colors) is to dive deep into research. This will help you start to form a mental mood board of what already exists. When researching other designs and concepts, take time to assess what elements you like, and what design elements look cluttered and disjointed.

Take note of the elements you like, so you can use these ideas when plotting out the structure of your design later in the process.

3. Ask yourself: What problems am I trying to solve?

The next step involves asking yourself further questions so that you can create a clear brief for your design. This also helps you streamline the intent of your design. Below are the types of questions to ask yourself:

What is the problem I am trying to solve?

Here, you are trying to identify the challenges that you are facing, and what you are trying to solve through your design. Using our earlier Instagram example: The problem is that there may not be enough people attending your event. And the solution is that you are using design to attract people there via social media marketing.

Who is the design for?

When designing, it’s important to consider who your audience is, and what their needs are. Things to consider include: The age demographic you want to target, the medium the design will be marketed on, and what type of designs they are likely to be attracted to.

What do you want the design to feel like?

Instead of focusing on the aesthetics of your design, you are focusing on the emotions you want your design to elicit. Fun or serious? Joyous or downcast? This will help you when choosing colors, fonts, and layouts.

3. Ask yourself: What do I want it to look like?

Now that you’ve outlined the key goals of your design project and have built a structure that will inform your design, it’s time to decide what you want your design to look like. Many designers find it helpful to grab a pen and paper and roughly sketch the key elements of their design.

With Canva, there are thousands of pre-designed, designer approved templates that you can use and customize to your own preferences, or you can create a design from scratch.

If you need more inspiration before starting your design, you can start to create a mood board to make it easier when choosing your font, color palette, and templates. You can also use Pinterest, Designspiration, Dribbble, and Google images for further inspiration.