The Design Process

The Design process is a simple process through which you can solve any problem. Every step must be completed to ensure a successful project. Often, people will skip some of the less visible steps. This soon becomes visible as the project nears completion and is unorganized and sloppy. Don’t skip a step because “no one will notice.” They will notice as soon as they view your final project!!!

Below is the design loop. There are many ways to draw this loop, some have 4 steps, some have 12… but this 6 step approach includes all the major steps in the design process.


A Few Notes On The Design Process:

  1. In understanding the problem, you should write a design brief. This will explain not only what you have to accomplish, but what limitations and specifications you must adhere to. A well written design brief will keep your focus on target and insure that you don’t neglect an important aspect of the project.
  2. When researching, never use just one source. Always look for as much information as you can gather. Experience and other experts are also important sources to consider.
  3. When generating possible solutions, NEVER just go with your first idea. Always try to come up with 10 ideas, good or bad. Brainstorm. Then narrow that list down to 5, then your top 3. From here you should really look at what the pros and cons are for each solution.
  4. Once you have really examined all 3 of your best solutions, pick the best one. At this point you should begin to plan and develop your project. This is the part of the process most people skip. People get excited and then just start building their project without planning. A project not worth planning is not worth building.
  5. After you have planned your project, implement your plan. With the big picture in mind, you will find that you will complete the project with much more speed and ease than an unplanned project.
  6. Test your project. Does it do EXACTLY what it was supposed to do? Did it meet all the required specifications and limitations? Does your product demonstrate craftsmanship and attention to detail? Did you use appropriate materials? If the prototype is a success, you are ready for production. If the prototype fails: that’s OK. Now you have the information you need to succeed. Why did it fail? Was it a design problem? Did you use the wrong materials? You will begin the design process again, but now your problem is much smaller. The problem is just to solve the error in your prototype. Improvise and redesign the faulty part of your project. You don’t need to start the project over, this is a new project. Instead of making a device the problem is to redesign the device to overcome it’s weaknesses.


The above design process and design notes should give you the information to solve ANY problem. Remember that if you don’t think anyone will notice that you’re not planning, you’re fooling yourself! They’ll notice when you have to disassemble your product because you forgot a crucial part that goes on the inside, or when they see the shoddy and makeshift quality of your work.

For more information on the Design Process:

Research Strategy from Cornell University