How do you have an idea and take it to its potential? Ideas start from anything, anywhere, anytime. But actually taking that spark of imagination to fruition becomes a process that takes time and usually involves feedback from diverse groups of people. Reaching the potential of an idea is an important process. It is a process that brings innovation and change to our world. This process is called a design process and involves design thinking, design research and design making. Look at the design thinking journey and the design making journeys. What is a design process? Where does it begin and where does it end? We already know that it can begin anywhere…with a feather, a rock, a look into the sky, a reading of a word or a poem, a meeting with a person, a look at a newspaper. It is human ingenuity to want change. For design of anything in the built environment, design begins with people and places. Although design may be a light bulb of an idea, the light bulb often turns on after intensive investigation and definition of a set of intentions. The intentions are then strategized into possibilities and tested with feedback. Take a look at these design process stages:
- Define intentions, objectives, problem
- Gather pertinent information
- Generate multiple solutions
- Analyze and select a solution
- Test and implement the solution
Activity 1 – begin a design process..have an idea!
Ok. So what are you thinking? What do you want to do or what do you want to achieve or what do you want to change or what do you want to create? A first good step, is to write all of this down, even if it starts with just a word. Once you record that word or words or phrases of ideas (in your journal), you have made a mark and it is a start of an incredible adventure. Now put your idea under intense investigation. What does that word mean? What does it mean in the dictionary, to your friend, to your relatives, to your community, to the world? Write all of that down. Do you agree? Do you want that word to, in some measure, possibly mean something else? Good! You have the makings of a designer. Start constructing new meanings of that word. Come up with ideas about what that word could mean, and what its world could look like.
Activity 2 – design process checklist
Now that you have come up with some ideas, investigated those ideas, and further determined some objectives to accomplish your goals, let’s look at expanding our five-step project into a design process checklist to see where feedback comes in to play. Check off the tasks that you have completed and get started on your next step!
identify - areas of potential work
intend – identification of a set of needs, directions, activities, goals, objectives
define – research and gathering of information to inform direction
conceptualize – addressing objectives
strategize - modes of achieving goals
explore – conceptualize approaches
plan – iterative development of concept(s)
produce – prototyping and construction of alternatives
evaluate – quality assessment and testing
integrate – delivery and feedback from user
Make a diagram of the design process each time you design something. Collecting these will give you good ideas for what parts of the process remain the same and what parts of the process are always different! Diagram Design Process.
Activity 3 – understanding site
A next necessary step is defining where your project will take place. Is your project in your own community? Is it a prototypical project that could exist in other places? This is called defining the ‘scope’ of a project. Where a project will exist determines a lot about a process.
Activity 4 – document your design process
Finally, now that you are becoming an experienced designer, it is important to note that each time you start a new project, it is very, very important to document your process. This means that during a project, it is very important to record and save every idea, sketch, model, drawing, feedback, phone call, etc. The design process is not linear - it often stops going forward in one direction and backtracks to an earlier point of development! Documenting a design process is also very important because usually you need to show and communicate your process to others. Documenting your design process can best be done by collecting everything in one area. Digitally record each item and keep back-ups of the digital records. Designers often publish a book of their process, create a digital presentation or even a movie. A documentation of a process is important because there will be times you cannot present your work in person, but your digital file can.
- A design process is linear.
- Iterative means making multiple studies or solutions.
- A design process involves gathering and recording information.
- Prototypes are models made for testing and evaluation.
- Feedback is a critical part of a design process.
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