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Myth or Fact: Design is always about creating something new

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The design process starts with an initial idea which is then refined and improved over time

The world had to wait about 12 years for James Cameron to make what would become “the new biggest film of all time” since Titanic. 

At the height of 3D film technology, Avatar spent seven straight weekends at the top of the North American box office, bringing in more than $595 million.

Personally, I don’t just like movies for the special effects, but for the story too. And when you look at the plot of Avatar, you’ll realize that it’s pretty similar to Disney’s Pocahontas from 1995.

Although Avatar is the most successful movie ever, it’s not the most original. From Dances with Wolves to The Last Samurai, the story of a white outsider who learns about the culture of a local community and then fights to protect it has been told many times.

Both Avatar and Pocahontas deal with colonialism and forbidden love. 

But if you want a movie that’s even more like Avatar, check out Disney’s 2001 animated movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The ending scenes are almost exactly the same, frame by frame!

New is not always better

Don’t get me wrong, designing something new is awesome, but it’s not always necessary. In creative products or services, design is refined and improved over and over again.

Iterative design

Sometimes, it’s about taking something that already exists and making it better. That’s called iterative design. You take an existing product or design and improve on it, making it more efficient or user-friendly.

For example, look at smartphones. They’ve been around for years, and every year a new model is released. 

But each new model isn’t a completely new design from scratch. It’s an iterative design of the previous model, improved with new features and better technology.

Adaptive design

Another aspect of design that isn’t always about creating something new is adaptive design. This is when you take an existing design and modify it to fit a different context or audience. 

For example, taking a web design and adapting it to work well on mobile devices.

Examples of adaptive design in websites

Empathic design

And let’s not forget about empathic design. This is when a designer focuses on understanding the needs and experiences of the user and designing a solution that addresses those needs.

For example, the people who made Cheerios thought that most people would eat them for breakfast. But when they went out to observe, they learned that the cereal was often brought as a to-go snack.

By finding out how your product or service is used, you can find ways to improve it, remake it, or even enter new markets.

Revisions improve design thinking

In Deer Designer, we do iterative, adaptive, and empathic design all the time, starting from client onboarding to our service of unlimited revisions. 

We believe continuously improving the design, according to the business strategy, will keep your brand fresh and alive.

Here’s an example: Your web agency has two weeks to deliver a web design to a client. You tap us to help you, and we give you options that you put in front of the client within days.

By the time the deadline comes, we will have already gone through multiple cycles of feedback and are confident that the work will be accepted by the client.

Redesign to make it better

As you can see, design isn’t always about creating something new. 

Sometimes it’s about improving on what already exists, adapting it to new contexts, or empathizing with the user’s needs. All of these approaches are valid and important in the design process.

Next time someone tells you that design is all about creating something new, you can impress them with your knowledge of iterative, adaptive, and empathic design.

And remember, design is about solving problems and meeting the user’s needs, whether that involves creating something new or not.