The Digital Creative Cycle

If you asked any UX designer what their core process learning has been, chances are you will get a response that boils down to one thing: Iteration. Make progress in small amounts, make it fast, and make it often. Make it work, then go back and make it better.

The Creative Cycle is used just for that purpose. It allows you to express and channel your creativity in a way that gives you the most feedback in the shortest amount of time. You can then use that feedback to cycle around again to improve. Not only does this keep your business fresh and new to your customers, but it keeps you excited about what’s coming next.

Step 1: Learn

This means learning from your industry, your competitors, your team and yourself. This first brainstorming step is where you perform a download of all those kick-ass ideas you have swimming around in your head. There are no wrong answers here! Some of the best concepts evolve from the conversation that happens when someone puts a really bad idea on the table. Research also happens in this phase. Gathering as much information as you can equips you with the knowledge you need to make educated decisions in future phases.

Step 2: Plan

Now that you have a confident grip on what you’re working with, you can dive into the actual planning phase. This varies greatly depending on what you’re planning, but the theory is the same. This is the stage where it’s most important to remember to start small. There’s always time to go back and do more, but right now your focus needs to be on doing just one thing really right.

Step 3: Action It

After your plans are in place, it’s time to pull that trigger! This is where you put the plan into action by following through with all of the action items, which we’ll address later in much more detail on this blog series.

Step 4: Shut Up and Listen

The sooner you learn from a mistake or catch on to a trend, the sooner you can use that new wisdom to your advantage. That could be reviewing analytics or performance data, customer service reports, talking to people face-to-face, or reading reviews. Setting something in motion and then stepping back into the shadows for a bit allows you to reset your mind and compare your hypotheses to reality.

Personally, I take a “Business Review Day” once per month to assess things and get a fresh outlook. This is my favourite part of running a business! It’s when you get to push aside all of the daily chaos and really focus on forward movement and change. I’m such a fan of Business Review Days that I make them my own personal “working vacation”. Remove yourself from your everyday workspace or home where you may get distracted. Coffee shops, coworking spaces – I even rented a fancy hotel room once! Find what works for you. The goal is to think outside the box and come out feeling refreshed and excited.


Image credit Dr Colleen Morgan