Okay, so I've created my 10 steps for creating original design after a debate with someone pissed about another app developer ripping off his icons.
I said that individual icons or design aspects being copied isn't a bad thing, it's how the whole thing comes together that matters. So long as they have a unique offering and the design as a whole is distinct from others on the market to the general user, they shouldn't really be at fault. Modern design is all built on top of each other, it's part of the process. But anyways, here it is:10 STEPS FOR CREATING ORIGINAL DESIGN LANGUAGES
1. [Identify The Theme]
Figure out the theme of what you are trying to create. For games, it could have a techie theme, for girls, something pink.... with unicorns, for Football, something flashy, for Hockey, something glossy, for the general user, something simplistic and polished. The theme should be defined broadly and in pencil and should be better defined as you move through the following steps.
2. [Find Inspiration]
Find a design language (or several) that fits Step 1's theme used by someone, somewhere, for anything that you really like. (I encourage constantly creating repositories of designs you like to come back to)
3. [Reinvent It]
Take the design and make it into the format of graphics you are creating (i.e. TV graphics, icons, app layout design, etc) exactly how you think the original artist would. If using multiple design languages, do it for each, then combine them into one. (keeping all for reference)
4. [Improve It]
Improve the design as much as you can and perhaps redefine a color pallet for the theme.
5. [Simplify It]
For anything non-essential in the design, try removing it, if re-added it doesn't look BETTER, leave it out.
6. [Own It]
If the improvements you added didn't add a uniqueness to the design that separates it from the original, start making changes to what makes the original iconic until what makes it iconic is unique to itself. Weather it be background patterns, edges, gradients, borders, flare, glow, material, shape, animation, etc. It doesn't need to look completely different, but it needs to not look like a direct copy.
7. [Verify It]
Create various elements using this design language, then add back in the result(s) from Step 2. The result(s) from Step 2 should look alien to this design language. If it blends in well, go back to Step 6.
8. [Define It]
At the end, the entire design language should be able to be applied clearly to a graphic 400x200 in size. This should basically be a miniature (not shrunk) version of the entire design. Someone looking at this graphic should have a fair understanding of the entire design language. Then create explicit rules for how to apply the various parts from your graphic.
• Rules for what to apply to where and when from the design language
• Margin/padding sizes and general white-space rules
• Define what design lines should be followed for alignment
• Text font/color/size stages (title > subtitle > content > sub-content > etc)
• Button font/color/size options (Primary action > action > rare action > disabled)
• Background texture/color/opacity stages (main > category > item > etc.)
• ...and anything else you can think of to prevent the design from getting beat with an ugly stick by yourself or someone else that misapplied the design scheme.
Example of a simple one for buttons I made here: http://goo.gl/7ayRsE
9. [Hate It]
Make the graphic from Step 8 into a tiled background on your desktop. Keep it there for a minimum of a week or two until you hate the design. Then go back to Step 4. If after a month, you still don't hate it, continue.
10. [Finish It]
Don't worry about this step; you'll never get past Step 9. #design #designing #uidesign #uxdesign #graphicdesign