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The Design Process

The Design Process
The Design Process

The Design process is a series of steps that a designer takes when working on a project. The details of each stage will differ depending on the type of design but the approach should always be the same. It is vital to stick to the design process during a design as skipping a stage, completing stages out of order or not using the design process at all will result in a lower quality outcome, an outcome the client is not happy with or even worse no outcome at all.

The diagram above outlines the basic stages of the design process and below each stage of the process is explained in more detail.


1. Analyse The Brief

The design process will begin when a client delivers the designer with a brief. The brief will outline what the client wants although as the client will likely have no design experience it is important for the designer to carefully analyse all details given by the client and if necessary to make further enquiries about the needs of the client. It may seem overly simple or just plain obvious but this is a key satge in the design process as if you start out with the wrong idea of what you are being asked to do then you will never be successful. On the other hand, a specific and detailed outline of the clients needs based on the brief will allow for a smooth and successful completion of the design process.


2. Identify The Key Requirements

The next step of the design process is based on the analysis of the brief , now you must identify the most important parts of the brief and what is required to achieve them, whether it is time, software, hardware, samples or something else. Ask yourself, what requirements must I fulfil? For example when designing a poster for an event, the simple act of including the time, date and venue are much more important than any aspect as a poster without the necessary details is useless. It is therefore important to identify and prioritise the key requirements of the brief.

3. Research Existing Design Solutions

Research is important part of the design process in order to identify possible design styles and ideas which may also suit the needs of your client. These samples can be used when meeting with the client to identify the style of image/design which they prefer. For students research will also help to familiarise yourself with industry standard designs and the quality of design which is required.


4. Generate Ideas/Brainstorming

Coming up with an idea for the design, a slogan for a campaign, an image for a poster, a name for a website etc. can be difficult. However, by focussing on fulfilling the key requirements of the brief and allowing your research to inspire you it is possible to generate original designs for your project. Brainstorming is often used where a lack of ideas is a problem. Free writing is a type of brainstorming which simply involves relaxing your mind and writing down any and all ideas you have as quickly as possible without really thinking. Having your research around you can help when doing this. It may seem very simple but generally people have numerous ideas but they tend to dismiss them before writing them down, considering them down and allowing them to be developed into viable design solutions. For help and assistance visit our article on idea generation.


5. Develop Ideas

It is good practice not to settle on simply one idea but rather to choose 2 or 3 of your best ideas and develop them through simple sketches, drawings, colour scheme test pages and font style sheets. These steps all help to develop your ideas and highlight which one has the most potential for success. Sketching will also help to identify possible layouts/compositions that can be used.


6. Produce The Design

Once an idea has been selected and sufficiently developed it is time to begin producing/creating the design. It is important to note that this is commonly the stage of the design process that overeager student designers begin at and without stating the obvious this should never be done. Depending on the type of design different softwares or materials will be used to create the design but regardless of the means of production it is important that the previous stages are not forgotten and that the key requirements are fulfilled.


7. Testing The Design

This is a quick and simple stage of the design process but one that is often overlooked. For printed designs testing simply involves printing the design to ensure the resolution and colours are of good quality, that no clipping of important details occur and that text is readable and without errors. For website design this stage will involve checking that all features are functional, that links are working and that page loading speeds are acceptable.


8. Place the design into the intended environment

For printed designs this will involve placing the poster/logo/sign/banner etc. in its intended position and ensuring that text is readable from an acceptable distant, images are clear and that the colours do not clash with or blend into their surroundings. For websites this will involve publishing the website online and rechecking all features and functions. For other types of designs, such as architecture or interior design, a programme such as Photoshop can be used to digitally place the design into its intended environment.


9. Evaluate The Completed Design

Before printing your final design to the client it is vital that you evaluate it without bias. The easiest way to do this is simply return to stage 2 of the design process where you identified the key requirements of the brief and see if you have successfully fulfilled them. It may also be useful to get the opinion of others at this stage if you fear you will be unable to objectively evaluate your own design.


10. Redesign

This step in the process is only necessary if, after evaluation, you feel you have not successfully met the key requirements of the design brief. This stage involves returning to the beginning of the design process and returning through each step correcting the errors which led to the key requirements not been fulfilled.

If you enjoyed this article then perhaps our articles on the webinterior, games, graphic or furniture design processes may also be of interest.