Refinement vs Exploration

Cool illustration that explains where refinement and iteration should take place. While there are different theories for approaching a problem, I still think research and exploration always comes first, followed by prototypes and iteration.


5 thoughts on “Refinement vs Exploration

  1. Fantastic – this is often a hard message to convey – Design is a process.. thanks for highlighting this!

    • Yah, there are several theories for approaching a problem now-a-days. Engineers and developers typically like to start building a prototype immediately and iterate—This is kind of like the 37signals approach. On the other hand, designers typically like to cast a wider net to explore a problem space first, and then hone in on the problem they’re solving. There are pros and cons for both theories. I think the way for designers to make more impact is to think like an engineer… try to spend less time on casting a huge net, and get to a prototype faster. By having a prototype, you can get user feedback earlier—this can give a designer concrete direction.

      I think the key is not to release anything that could be a bad experience—this could taint the brand you’re designing. It’d be terrible if your brand was associated with words like, “confusing”, “takes too long”, or “miserable”. It’s hard to change that reputation afterwards.

  2. This drawing is very powerful and I’d like to use it, but I always try to site originators. Is this your drawing? Or did you borrow it from someone else?

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