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The Design Process

The design process is a set of stages designers use to develop a product, whether it is a large building or small electrical item.


Without following the design process you are at risk of developing a product that will not be commercially successful.




The design is problem is the task you have been set to solve, it is often set by a client (someone the designer is working for).

An example of a design problem might be to develop a new mobile phone to boost sales for a company, or to develop a pair of football boots that offer more stability.

It is important that the designer understands what the client expects from them.




Most designers will carry out some form of research, in some cases this may be as simple as looking at what other people have done to give you ideas.

If you where designing a new sports car you would have to make sure you understood about engines, traction control, aerodynamics, road safety, in fact too much for any one person to deal with, in which case a research team would be needed.

Without proper research you will not design the best product and your competitors will out do you.





The specification is list of things the product must do based on what the client asked for and what your research found out.

It will normally include things like, size, cost, materials, target market.

The specification is a critical step as it will normally form the basis of a financial contract between the designer and client.




ideasDesign Ideas are your first ideas on how you can solve the design problem, they will normally be a set of sketches with notes on how the product might be made.

It is important to consider a range of solutions before deciding which one to develop, some people just go with their first idea and then realise they could have made a better product when it's too late to change the design.

Designers are generally successful in a range of business roles, because they have developed the ability to consider a range of solutions before picking the best one.





Your final design will have all the exact information needed to build it, such as the correct dimensions. Unlike working in a school workshop most designers will not make their products, they will normally be made by companies that specialise in process such as injection molding and can mass produce items.

In the case of a building the architect will design the building bit they will not build it.

Getting the correct information on the final design is critical to getting the right product produced.




At the end of any product development it is important to consider what went well and what you could improve on next time.

Whilst we put evaluation at the end of the design process, you should be evaluating throughout the design process to make sure you are doing the best you can.

Being reflective and evaluating both the product and your performance are key elements to becoming more successful.




  1. Create a poster or PowerPoint that describes each stage of the design process.
  2. Pick a product such as mobile phone and explain what the designer might be doing at each stage of the design process.


Challenge Questions

  1. What is a target market and why does the designer need to know this?
  2. What might happen if the final design drawing for a building had the wrong size or materials on it?
  3. What sorts of things might a sports shoes manufacturer need to research?
  4. Why do Apple keep bringing out new Iphones? Can you link this to evaluation?
  5. Why might it be the company not the designer that write the design problem and the design specification?