With unlimited freedom, I could build a sandcastle close to the water with lookout towers, sky-high walls, add a drawbridge and a moat. Even add in some extra unique features like a snail garden and a hermit crab zoo. But when the sun comes out and the sand begins to dry, the walls start to crumble and the towers lose their form. The moat is washed away by the incoming tide and the hermit crabs escape.
Freedom is not conducive to creating something that is successful and well-designed, parameters are.
Determining some of the parameters before any building had begun could have saved this castle from crumbling. How close to the water can the castle be built, would shorter walls last longer, are the features really necessary? I like to think of parameters as building a sandbox to play in and I like to use this analogy in my design process.
The sandbox provides purpose and controls the expectations of what is being created, but not necessarily how it will be created. I can go nuts in the sandbox as long as I know what I can and can’t do.
The sandbox is built by getting to know the client, their needs, their goals and asking critical questions before any creative work is done. To determine the parameters this involves some critical thinking and collaboration from a team of people, including the client, to determine the best approach to meet certain objectives and goals.
Without parameters, you have no goal, no objectives, no sandbox to play in.