Redesigning a digital product or designing one from scratch can be a little overwhelming at first. Even though we have many standards and best practices, there are many ways to design and organize information for the same thing. When it comes to design and UX my focus is on software and Web and mobile apps. Over the years I’ve adopted designing the workspace first as part of my process. I define the workspace as the “container” that everything else goes inside of. Usually this consists of some combination of navigation, search, header and footer. As an example, here is the workspace for Google Inbox.
Who knows how many different options or prototypes the Google Inbox team looked at before deciding upon this one but there are many different ways this information could have been presented. Designing for the workspace first allows for a very narrow and specific focus on one thing. It allows the team or group you’re working with to sort of “baby step” into the design process in a way that is not overwhelming. It’s a great way to start to get a sense of space and how content might be organized; it takes a bit of imagination to fill in the blanks but this is easily mitigated through conversation and sketching. Lastly, it’s relatively quick to put together different design approaches for the workspace so it doesn’t add a lot of time to the overall design process. In my experience, completing this step unites the team and gives people the confidence that we looked at many options and went with the one that worked the best.