Image

VCD Theory Design Process

Design Process.

How to manage your design journey

How designers work

Our design process

Image

VCAA, 2018, Visual Communication Design Study Design, Figure 1: A process for creating visual communication. (p 11). VCAA, Melbourne.

UK Design council double diamond

Image

The UK Design Council, 2007, Double Diamond.

Image

Design thinking

Design thinking is a term given to kinds of thinking that are used to stimulate, consider and evaluate design  and decisions. This section will examine how design thinking is embedded in each stage of the design process.

The role of creative, critical and reflective thinking in the design process

Image

Introduction

Take a look at the animation at left. This is a short, visual look at what happens in the Design Process, from an initial idea through to the production of a final presentation.

The animation also contains some blue circles. These show how three kinds of design thinking called Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking and Reflective Thinking are used at each stage of the design process to drive creativity, evaluate design decisions and reflect on a designer's journey.

As practitioners working within the Design Process we are expected to understand the role of Design Thinking and incorporate it at each stage of our work.

Some examples of how Design Thinking is incorporated into each phase of the Design Process are shown below.

Branch out

Image

Click the image above to visit my page on Design Thinking and find out what kind of thinking is used in the Design Process.

Brief

Image

Critical and reflective

Critical and Reflective Thinking strategies are used to

  • Identify and describe a client and analyse the scope, breadth of and the nature of their business.
  • Clarify a design problem by identifying and describing one (or two) communication need
  • Elaborate on the communication needs by identifying and describing
    • the target audience
    • the purpose
    • the context
    • relevant constraints that apply and content that is required for the communication need. Expectations for how the solution to the communication need should be formed
    • The proposed presentation for submission

Research

Image

Creative, critical and reflective

Creative, Critical and Reflective Thinking strategies are used to

  • guide investigation around a expanding on a communication need
  • analyse and evaluate information
  • sort and classify information to direct the Design Process with relevance to the brief
  • synthesise ideas and key features of designs
  • reflect on how similar design problems may have been or have not been solved successfully by others
  • predict the challenges that might lie ahead of us and what might need to be done to solve them

Annotations

  • Identify the kinds of research being undertaken
  • Identify, describe, analyse and evaluate research including;
    • aesthetic and functional qualities and considerations
    • effectiveness in engaging and maintaining the interest of the target audience
    • effectiveness in their present role including purpose and context
    • relationships with environmental, technological, economic, social, historical, stylistic factors that shape design
    • how they may contribute to the development of ideas for the present communication need
  • Link areas of research
  • Structure, sort and categorise research
  • Suggest and direct further exploration
  • Explain synthesis made
  • Link observational drawing with research
  • Reference all content observing trademark, copyright and legal obligations.

Generation of ideas

Image

Critical

Critical Thinking helps synthesise research material by incorporating, combining, eliminating, changing and/ or adapting key features of existing designs.

Creative

Creative Thinking helps stimulate a wide range of approaches to visualising new ideas.

Creative thinking strategies are also used to re-invigorate or broaden the process of visualising divergently.

Reflective

Reflective Thinking enables the

  • identification of features
  • discussion of how they may/ may not contribute to the design journey
  • evaluation of ideas as potential for meeting the needs in the brief.

Annotations

  • Describe, analyse, evaluate and reflect on ideas in relation to the brief
  • Direct the Design Process by sign posting and road-mapping further exploration
  • Identify Design Thinking strategies used
  • Explain connections between ideas and concepts and research
  • Journal the Design Process

Development of concepts

Image

Creative

Creative Thinking is used to drive further innovation directed at satisfying a communication need at deeper levels than that required during Generation of Ideas.

Critical

Critical Thinking routines are used as mechanisms from which useful feed back can be gained to support the evaluation of designs made. It also supports synthesis between ideas and key features of concepts by sparking innovative hybrid ideas that may satisfy a communication need more efficiently.

Reflective

Reflective Thinking used to

  • consider the suitability of concepts from a variety of perspectives
  • as a framework to progressively record the analysis and justification of design decisions leading to the selection of preferred concepts for Refinement
  • to frame reflection on the use of the Design Process in a design journey and evaluate progress during various phases of development
  • to consider and expand on feedback leading to the improvement of design concepts.

Annotations

  • Describe, analyse, evaluate and reflect on the development of concepts in relation to the brief
  • Link areas of development and synthesis
  • Document thinking from different perspectives
  • Explain and justify design decisions using design elements and principles and other terminology
  • Gather evidence to support and reject concepts
  • Document and provide reasons for selection of preferred concepts in relation to the brief
  • Identify Design Thinking strategies used
  • Journal and evaluate the use of the Design Process
  • Reference all content observing trademark, copyright and legal obligations.

Refinement

Image

Creative and critical

Creative and Critical Thinking are used in similar ways to those used for Development of Concepts, however, the orientation of thinking is altered as the Refinement phase is one of convergent thinking.

Reflective

Reflective Thinking drives the process of describing, evaluating and justifying design decisions against the communication needs identified in the brief.

Annotations

  • Describe, analyse, evaluate and reflect on the refinement in relation to the brief
  • Link areas of refinement and synthesis
  • Document thinking from different perspectives
  • Explain and justify design decisions using design elements and principles and other terminology
  • Reflect on refinement of concepts in relation to the brief
  • Document and provide reasons for selection of preferred concepts in relation to the brief
  • Identify Design Thinking strategies used
  • Document methods of testing prototypes and mock-ups
  • Journal and evaluate the use of the Design Process
  • Reference all content observing trademark, copyright and legal obligations.

Resolution of presentations

Image

Reflective

Reflective Thinking is used to consider and evaluate feedback received during and after the presentation of mock ups to a client. Reflection is required to determine necessary changes that need to be made to refined concepts prior to the Resolution of Presentations.

These reflections will be identified and described in detailed written annotations.

Critical

When producing final presentations Critical Thinking is used to consider, evaluate and ensure the maintenance of

  • innovation
  • technical expertise
  • ways of gaining attention and maintaining engagement of the target audience
  • relevant technical, layout and/ or typographic conventions
  • the purpose
  • the context
  • constraints and expectations
  • the proposed presentation formats chosen for the visual communication
  • relationships between visual communications where more than one are being produced

Annotations

  • Reflect on and synthesise feedback received from testing prototypes and mock-ups
  • Describe, analyse, evaluate and reflect on prototypes and mock-ups in relation to the brief and presentation format
  • Document and expand on further development required to satisfy the communication need in relation to the brief
  • Describe and explain the design and construction of presentation formats
  • Explain and justify design decisions using design elements, principles and conventions
  • Explain links between presentation formats
  • Identify Design Thinking strategies used
  • Journal and evaluate the use of the Design Process
  • Reference all content observing trademark, copyright and legal obligations.
Image

Brief.

The first stage of the Design Process set out a problem to be solved.

What’s the problem?

The purpose of a brief is to define the nature of a design problem. This is known as a communication need. The brief identifies and describes;

  • who has set the problem (the client),
  • who exactly will use or see it (the target audience),
  • the reason for the need to be met(the purpose)
  • were it will be used or seen (the context).
  • There is also usually a list of requirements or features a client wants to see in the solution to their need. These are called constraints and expectations. Constraints are typically physical or tangible in nature, like words, numbers (text) or pictures (image) content for communication design, for environmental design constraints might include the number of rooms wanted in a house. Hence constraints usually refer to the functional considerations of the proposed design. Expectations typically refer the aesthetic considerations the client desires. These are also known as ‘tone and manner’. Examples of expectations could include a client wanting their design to be futuristic or perhaps rustic in feel.
  • The brief concludes with the identification of ‘proposed presentation formats’. This means the kind of deliverable (presentation format) the designer will supply. In communication design this may be an actual poster. However, for industrial or environmental design it is appropriate to represent the design solution as technical drawings, a three-dimensional rendering, model or prototype.

A brief for the SAT

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Format for Brief

There is no prescribed format for a brief as they are generated in a variety of different ways, usually in collaboration with designer and client. In fact, a brief is usually the result of several meetings or conversations between these parties as both become surer about the exact nature of a communication need, the constraints and how it is to be met. Typical formats for a student brief in Visual Communication Design are a list in paragraph form or a letter. Either are ok, as long as each contains the required information. The brief may be guided by a word limit.

Your teacher may set a time line for the drafting and completion of a brief and include a final sign off where it is finished. After this final stage the brief then becomes the criteria for evaluation of ideas and final presentation formats.

Click on the image at right to visit my page on The Brief.

tasks

Brief
Describe a client

Choose a range of different products in the same category. Cars or drinks for example. Make a search for information about the company that made them. Describe the client noting the location of business, size and scope and approach to their range of products.

Describing audience, purpose and context
Choose a range of products or designs. Identify the target audience, purpose and context for each one. Now imagine and explain exactly how constraints and expectations may have been set for these products to ensure they met the needs of their audience and are suitable for their purpose and context. As an extension task, propose a new target audience, purpose or context and re-write the constraints and expectations accordingly. This task would best be done in table form.
Alternative presentation formats
Choose three products or designs. Create a table and write the names of the products or designs across the top row. Beneath each product, identify a range of presentation formats a client may have required a designer to have delivered in response to a brief.
Reverse brief

Choose a product and determine aspects that may have been present in a brief. Use the headings in The Brief above to guide your answer.

What’s the problem?
Choose a familiar household or classroom item. Describe its function and aesthetics without using its name. You will be describing a communication need.
Flip it
Imagine what you would need in a familiar product if it was to be used in a very different context. For example, a pen in space. Describe the design problem using the headings in the brief.
Drafting a brief
Visit my page on the brief and copy down the list of subheadings used to structure it. This is an important step as using the subheadings will ensure you don’t miss anything. Now begin to draft each section in paragraph form.
Image

Research.

Find out about the target audience and their needs.

Understand a need

The Research phase of the design process is a designer’s crash course in everything to do with understanding a communication need. This includes finding out how similar needs have been already solved, how to make a solution appealing to a target audience and plotting a potential course toward a successful solution. Research is a phase where a designer engages with the ongoing discourse in the design world, and in society at large about trends, styles, functions and preferences to do with communication needs.

Research from a range of sources

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Two strands

The first strand is knowing about the specific target audience for whom the design will be made and how to engage and maintain their interest and how to appeal to their preferences. Techniques of trend and market research are employed to gain this understanding. Qualitative (opinions) and quantitate (numerical data) surveys paint a picture of the exact characteristics, opinions and values of the potential customer or user.

The second is knowing as much about the kind of product the client wants – what similar designs have already been made, what kinds of inspirations might be useful, which existing products might share features that could be adapted to a new design and the backstory of designs in the product category. In addition, industrial and environmental designers need a sound understanding of ergonomics meaning how a product relates and interacts with the human body, and a knowledge of health and safety relating to the use of similar products.

Target Audience Profiling

The designer needs to understand the needs and wants for whom they are designing. They need empathy for not only demographic information recording facts about their audience but also what their audience believes and thinks. What the audience values in life determines how they form preferences for purchases. Considering Visual Communication Design is usually for communication of commercial ideas, it’s not surprising we designers need to understand how target audiences shop.

Target audiences are surveyed to determine their likes and preferences. Surveys can use interviews to gather extended responses. This amounts to qualitative research. In addition, online surveys can be used to gather numerical data in response to questions or images shown to members of the audience. This is referred to as quantitative research. Data can be aggregated to build a useful picture of preferences. It can also be accessed to compare the way different characteristics such as gender or age in members of different sub-groups belonging to the same target audience, respond to examples of text, art, nature and design. Mood board tools can be used with written descriptions to build a visual picture of an audience profile. Know the audience, what they think and what they value and your designs will meet their expectations.

Research about audience and market

Audience persona

Image
Amy Nguyen, 2018.

Audience analysis

Image
Amy Nguyen, 2018.

Perception of issue

Image
Amy Nguyen, 2018.

Product research

Product research is conducted in a wide range of forms. These are known as sources of inspiration. Field research involves the designer going out to where designs are found and recording information about similar and competitors’ designs and products. Documents are collected, photos taken, sketches and observational drawings made and notes are written that describe all that identify trends relating to designs, products and the ways target audiences use them. Shops, parks, trade shows, site visits, exhibitions, documentaries, films, book shops, cafes, festivals all make excellent locations for accumulating field research.

Secondly, designers conduct Desk research. This refers to processes of collection and analysis of information that are made from the desk or office. Trawling relevant internet design sites and social media feeds keep designers in touch with current design trends and trends and styles to do with consumers and influencers. Books and magazines are also read and notes recorded. Designers may share information with other designers on dedicated photo sharing websites. Both field and desk research is intended to place the designer at the center of a changing and evolving world relating to the product or design they have been asked to supply. Collect everything, process it later.

Research about products

Mind-map

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Pop culture designs

Image
Lisa Peric, 2012.

Posters

Image
Elise Wilson, 2008.

Mind-map

Image
Navishka Fernando, 2016.

Real swing tags

Image
Amy Nguyen, 2018.

Print layouts

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Team logos

Image
Lachlan Peek, 2016.

Products in context

Image
Elana Monteleone, 2009.

Cycling garments

Image
Noelle Carzino, 2009.

Processing findings

Following the collection of information comes sorting, anylising and evaluating. Creative, Critical and Reflective Design Thinking is used to make sense of loads of written and visual resources. Sorting can take the form of simple categorizing, grouping or grading by shape, colour, price, country of origin, year made, etc. This exposes trends within categories of designs and products that would otherwise be invisible. Evaluations of products and designs are made by reflecting on a design’s suitability to fulfil the need it serves. They can be evaluated against its use or against our brief, then discussed in terms of how aesthetic and functional considerations are used.

Synthesise it

To further stimulate our engagement in research and understanding of trends, we are encouraged to synthesise all this information. This effectively takes research from passive collections of pictures, words and snippets of life into fuel for creativity by uploading it to the designer. Techniques of synthesis include;

  • making sketches that copy parts of designs
  • adapting designs to new contexts
  • making sketches that combine selected parts of designs
  • recording colour swatches and type samples
  • associating type, designs and/ or images together
  • spotting, aligning and analyzing connections between past and contemporary designs in annotated examples
  • associating and making links between unrelated designs or features of designs that could be combined to form new ones.

Observational drawing

One other way to engage positively with real inspiration is by sketching from life. Observational drawing is required in the SAT in Visual Communication Design and is a powerful tool for understanding form, surface and how designs interact with people.

Observational drawings begin as freehand line sketches and are then enhanced by rendering techniques that enhance form with shade, tone, texture and record and depict colour, surface and materials.

Observational drawing is a tool to help a student engage with form. It is here that we are required to process three-dimensional reality into a two-dimensional representation. It is in this process that learning and understanding occur. For this reason, observational drawing must be done with the real object or built environment before the artist and not from a photo or computer image.  Hard as it may be, only then can we intercede as translator and therefore become fully cognizant of a design we are learning about.

Annotating research

Press the image link at right to jump back up to annotations for this stage of the Design Process.

Observational drawing

Image
Elana Monteleone, 2009.
Image
Amy Nguyen, 2018.

Working legally

Finally, as research will require collecting, recording and storing of pictures and information made and owned by others we are required to reference authors or copyright holders faithfully. Students are reminded to take notes on where information is found that can be used to cite references when and where images are included in their research. It is not sufficient to simply state ‘the internet’, ‘pintrest’ or ‘google seach’ as a reference for images. The exact web address (URL) must be copied and inserted or printed beside the image, as should be the date and time the image was accessed. Citing of references extends to images and text recorded from any source including books, magazines, exhibitions and other locations.

tasks

Audience and market research and surveys
Audience member profile
Make a detailed profile containing pictures and text to describe a target audience member. Show how they look, their age and other audience characteristics, their interests and purchasing preferences.
Survey your target audience

Make a Google forms survey to obtain data on how your target audience perceives and reacts to products, designs, colors, shapes, type or images. Survey a range of people in the audience group. Collect and process the data.

Who else makes it?

Who else makes it? Research the client and similar clients. Describe them. When did their business begin, why did it? Where are they located? Are they mass or niche market?

Mood board

Make a visual survey of the hobbies, past times and preferences of members of your target audience. Collect images that describe what they look like, like or images that they might like. Include words to describe the values that unite your audience. Are they all the same? Are there differences between members of your audience?

Product research
Mind-map
Make an ultra-detailed mind-map to investigate several different aspects or directions that could be taken to interpret the breadth of the product you are to design. Think histories, forms, materials, functions, sizes, etc., for each branch of the mind-map. Make connections across the branches with descriptions where possible.
Know the back story
How long has the design you’re researching been around for? Was there anything that came before it? Go on a treasure hunt to find out? Collect information about similar products as far back as you can go. Name and date them so you can arrange them in order. Map trends in style use of text, image content, style or form.
Stylistic periods as they influence design
Find examples of the product you’re researching that were made in several of the main artistic or stylistic periods. Determine how the social or stylistic influences shaped the designs.
Keeping up with the Joneses!
Now you have a thorough understanding of your client, who are their competitors? If you are designing a consumer product, take a trip to a shopping center and find out what are the competitor’s similar products. See what price points competitor’s products sit at. Analyse why some are more expensive or cheaper. Discuss the features or aesthetics at different price points.
Factors that shape design
Environmental, technological, social factors are all influential in shaping design. Research clients and their products that show a heightened (or reduced) awareness of the impacts of environmental, technological or social factors having shaped their designs. For example; are certain designs made with sustainable or reduced environmental impact inks and manufacturing processes? How does the cost and availability of technology help to shape certain designs? For example; why are modern passenger jets now being made from composite plastic instead of aluminum? Find out about designs that are socially, culturally and gender inclusive. How and why have they come to be? Are the designs you found accessible to all peoples? Do you know that there are accessibility standards in use that apply to design from websites to buildings? Are there still designs that are not inclusive? Why? Record your findings. Describe what could be done to change the situation.
Pushing my buttons
Operations, controls and interactions and user interfaces are important aspects of designs. Make a search of related and unrelated products to that of your communication need that use similar operations (do things like mix, cut, blend, inform, etc.,), controls (buttons, interfaces, menus, etc.,) or have similar interactions with the audience such as charts or handgrips. These features may be able to be combined with your design.
Can I DIY it?
How else can it be done? Search up alternative methods or devices that might achieve the same end as you have been instructed to design. One of my favorite possessions is a toy truck I collected from an Aboriginal community in Northern Territory years ago. It consists of merely of a long piece of stiff fencing wire bent at the top into a circle acting as a steering wheel then extending down about a metre to a horizontal tin can which it pierces, making an axle upon which the can revolves. It is used by a kid holding the circular ‘steering wheel’ in their hand and running forward, pushing the can before them. It works surprisingly well. Who would have thought, a truck made from one piece of wire and an old Milo tin? Consider, are there any make shift or DIY solutions you could use to answer the communication need? Identify and describe them.
4 Quadrant Matrix
Creativity, innovation, function, aesthetics. Collect a range of designs or products in the category that you need to design. Create a “4 quadrant matrix” where each segment of the chart is labelled with 2 or 4 words to describe the products or designs. Arrange the images you have collected on the table so as to evaluate each one in relation to the characteristics you have set.
Image

Generation of ideas.

The first stage to solving a communication need.

1000 ways

For every problem there are a thousand ideas to solve it. However, an idea only becomes a design when it has form and can be seen by others. Those with an understanding of copyright and intellectual property laws, realize that an idea is a non-tangible, construction and itself cannot be protected. It must first be given form in order to be known and be born in history.  This section is about the visualization of ideas; making ideas visible. Generation of Ideas is the phase in the Design Process that contains the highest emphasis on divergent thinking. One idea leads to another, then another, hopefully like a chain reaction, problems are deconstructed and every facet of possible ways to solve them are explored.

Yet there are challenges to creating a flow of ideas. These include;

  • The ability to draw well to make form visible
  • Continuing to think divergently when ideas run dry
  • Keeping the visualization of ideas relevant to the communication needs described in the brief
  • Referencing and incorporating information gained through research.

Visualisation drawing

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Making form visible

Freehand sketching is the best way to build form. However, to visualize something and to find a solution simultaneously is understandably hard. Two strategies to assist are;

  • Visualise an object through a process drawing small thumbnail sketches that alternate between two and three-dimensional views. These sketches may take in a whole object or centre on details as ideas form.
  • Use simple geometric forms as stand-ins when trying to visualize complex forms. For example, students wishing to draw a café counter or kitchen can step up to a group of class room tables as these simple forms contain the necessary structure underpinning an accurate two-point perspective. Likewise, a coffee cup is a similar form to a hair dryer and allows one to create a realistic central structure from life, prior to modifying form for a different purpose.

Finding new ways

Working with different materials, methods and media stimulates growth of ideas. For example, making models from different materials (boards, papers, woods) dictates different approaches to design - soft aluminum from a drink can will fold in a similar way to paper in origami. By contrast square section balsa will not and will require, hence dictate, a different method of construction, inherently creating to a totally different outcome based on one idea stemming from an identical concept.

Alternatively, imagining objects that could be made from different materials (in drawings) leads to a breadth of results. For example; one chair shown made from a range of different materials ranging from foam, fiberglass, plywood, plastic, wood or even glass will yield many variations of form, taking into consideration estimations of how materials might be manipulated to construct the chair, and ultimately how this would then effect aesthetics.

Working in a variety of drawing methods also pushes variation in ideas. Try a logo in a Third Angle orthogonal, one-point perspective or exploded view in isometric. Why not? No one says you can’t.

Keeping faith with your brief

You may find that with all this creativity your ideas stray from the communication need. Revisit the brief frequently. Pay particular attention to the purpose, context, constraints and expectations. Then use Critical Thinking skills to identify, describe and discuss features of your drawings relevant to those specifications and pinpoint those that are not, and will not be taken forward. Suggest ways, in your annotations for how designs can be brought closer to solving the need. This is all valid material for assessment. Good is good. Bad is good. Just describe everything you do in relation to your brief.

Making the most of your research

You may also find that your drawings start to wander from the valuable research you made earlier. Drawings, even visualization drawings, despite their dependence on imagination, are not intended to be made in a vacuum. Surround yourself, literally, with your research. Print it, put it on the wall in front of you, place it to your left and right and use it as reference for form, surface, materials, type forms, style and structure as you create. There you have it, borrow, adapt and synthsise.

Iterate, iterate

Look up, look down, look forward and look backward in your folio. Remember the Design Process is an circular model. This means you work continuously between Generation of Ideas, Research and Brief. Initially, the loops will be small, later in Development and Refinement you will be working father from your Research as your own ideas begin to stand up themselves. But all the while, don’t forget the brief – it’s what you’re marked against.

The objective of Generation of Ideas

The first is obviously to accumulate the widest range of ideas. If we consider that the further we go into the Design Process, away from our initial Generation of Ideas, the more our thinking becomes convergent. This means that with the use of Critical and Reflective Thinking to select better ideas and reject inferior ones, the number of ideas we have will necessarily be reduced.  My point is, if we start with 100 initial ideas, that are cut and combined to 50, then to 40 leading to 30, 20, 10 then right down to the last, most polished concept, that approach will be ever so much stronger a folio than one that begins with just 5 ideas, that cut to 3, then 2, and finally the last. Quite simply, you need as many different usable ideas as you can get as early as you can.

The second is to provide one with the widest range of approaches to answering the communication need. As you work on the Generation of Ideas phase of the Design Process, you will notice that different ideas seem to share similarities in approach. This could be for example perhaps in their form, the number of components they have, materials they are made from, the style they follow or how they function. Again, with Critical and Reflective Thinking you will be able to group them together to move past a collection of ideas and create a range of concepts. Label them ‘Concept 1’, ‘Concept 2’ etc. You will be asked to carry forward at least two of your best concepts into your Development of Concepts phase of the Design Process.

Annotating generation of ideas

Press the image link at right to jump back up to annotations for this stage of the Design Process.

A variety of approaches

Cafe logo

Image
Kate Gaylor, 2014.

Sauce bottle label

Image
Elana Monteleone, 2009.

Cosmetic label

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Audience analysis

Image
Amy Nguyen, 2018.

Bottle form

Image
Monique Pretto, 2008.

Hospital bed

Image
Tori Salvaggio, 2014.

Water campaign foldout

Image
Amy Nguyen, 2018.

Game vehicle design

Image
Navishka Fernando, 2016.

Cosmetic poster

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Cosmetic label

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

tasks

Generation of ideas
Drawing conclusions

Essentially there are two ways to go on Generation of Ideas. The first is to simply read the brief and then draw, using some of the support strategies shown above, any different ideas that come into your head. Often, if you’re passionate about the brief, and you’re on top of your game, this method will yield lots of useful ideas. Try it now.

However, the truth is, we are not always this fortunate. Therefore, the second method is to bring in some arbitrary rules to frame creative thinking.

Rules and strategies
Rules for generating ideas relate to either restrictions of time or approach. Rules relating to time ask us to draw in set timed bursts, like one might do physical training in a gym. Then rest to rejuvenate. Rules relating to approach set targets for change. An example of this approach is the Creative Thinking tool SCAMPER where a designer is called to ‘substitute’ something on their design, then ‘combine’ parts, then ‘adapt’ and so on until one has used some or all of the approaches all the way to ‘reverse’. You might not like where all this combining and reversing leads but, and here is the big positive but, you will like the fact that you now have many, many new ideas on your page.
Further strategies

There are many cool strategies to encourage divergent thinking shown on my page on Creative Thinking.  Visit the page, Google strategies for further information then try them out.

Image

Development of concepts.

Select at least two concepts from all your ideas. Develop each concept.

Improving ideas

The Development phase is where the thinking begins to narrow and converge towards a solution to the problem in the brief. However, don’t be in too much of a rush, for in Development, divergent and convergent thinking exist together. Divergent thinking is used as concepts are improved in more detail and at a greater resolution. However, convergent thinking is also called upon as your emphasis moves to finding more successful ideas, more suited to the purpose, context and presentation formats required.

Development of Concepts is where loose, broad and generic ideas are selected and translated into functioning concepts describing how a problem could be solved.

Development of selected concept

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Iterate again?

You may need further knowledge to push ideas beyond line drawings. How do I use a 3d printer? What kind of file does it take? How do I light a subject for a photo? How do I do a dry point etching? These may become relevant questions. Just as a designer will consult industry specialists like a printer, you may need to undertake further research. Development of Concepts is the phase for experimentation and learning skills and techniques in order to realise ideas.

How do I develop concepts?

Two ways to approach development of concepts are to trial and experiment with the elements and principles of design and to trail different materials, methods and media. The nature of these trials are specific to the field of design in which one is working.

Communication design

Develop elements and principles of design

Trials can be made so that individual elements and principles of design are emphasized. For example, line, shape, tone or texture can be used exclusively in an illustration. Add to that, variations in contrast, figure-ground, symmetrical and asymmetrical balance accordingly to best suit the purpose and context in the brief and you will have much that can be evaluated with critical thinking.

Variations in layout from the use of a symmetrical grid to a more dynamic counterbalanced layout will also provide opportunities to develop communication design.

Elements and principles

Game logo
Image
Navishka Fernando, 2016.
Poster design
Image
Navishka Fernando, 2016.

Develop materials, method, media, styles and conventions

Variations in the media used in drawings will also lead to myriad results. Whilst it is natural to fight against the roughness of a chalk pastel when trying to colour in a logo neatly, consider just going with it. What great textures it brings! Then start on lino-cut printing, scraper board, screen-printing and mono-printing for example.

Borrow conventions from other fields of design. Research signs, vintage posters or chemical labels. Apply them to your designs for further development where relevant.

Scanned manual work

Manual to digital methods
Image
Navishka Fernando, 2016.
Manual rubbings, collage
Image
Monique Pretto, 2008.

Industrial and Environmental Design

Develop elements and principles of design

Trials in the elements and principles of design is made in real and depicted three-dimensions. In illustrations, designs can be developed with the application of tone, texture, pattern, line, shape, contrast as well as variation of weight through balance, scale and proportion. In actual three-dimensional models, similar developments are possible with the variation in scale, balance and proportions of actual form, transparency, opacity, shape and void. Again, this yields much for evaluation and reflection.

Elements, principles, materials, methods

Sketch isometric
Image
Tori Salvaggio, 2014.
Rough model making
Image
Kieran Roberts, 2010.

Develop materials, method, media, styles and conventions

Whilst model making is shaped by the materials used, development in three-dimensional illustrations is effective through trialing in various methods. From casual freehand sketching, one and two-point perspective, through isometric and planometric to simple CAD constructions in TinkerCAD or SketchUp, each of these methods lends specific modes of communication that can be applied according to the purpose and audience in the brief.

Industrial and Environmental Design will invariably require two-dimensional depictions of form in Third-Angle Orthogonal or Plans and Elevations at scale. Further research will be required to determine relevant page sizes, formats, scale and conventions relevant to the field.

The objective of Development of Concepts

The end point of this phase is for students to have arrived at a preferred concept. However, this is not to be seen as a completed design.

The final stage of the Development of Concepts use of considered Critical and Reflective thinking to analyse and evaluate the student’s developed concepts against the requirements of the brief. There are a range of formal critical thinking tools such as POOCH, SWOT and DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats, where judgements from different perspectives are made (see my page on Design Thinking for further explanations). These are frameworks for evaluation of designs that provide structure and take the load of personal criticism of ones’ work. Annotations are written that describe the process of selection of preferred concepts, rejection of those that may not meet the requirements of the brief, how concepts could be enhanced further and with what modification may be required.

Annotating development of concepts

Press the image link at right to jump back up to annotations for this stage of the Design Process.

tasks

Development of concepts
Try it out

Use any of the processes described above as guides to develop your concepts.

Use Creative Thinking strategies
There are also many cool strategies to use for Development of Concepts shown on my page on Creative Thinking. Visit the page, Google strategies for further information then try them out.
Create rules of for creativity
In the end, in a similar way to Generation of Ideas, rules regarding time and approach to design need to be applied. Use them diligently as strict frameworks control design well.
Critical and reflective thinking
Refer to the guidelines above on Critical and Reflective thinking tasks to arrive at and document a preferred concept before heading into the Refinement stage of the Design Process.
Image

Refinement.

Polish one preferred concept ready for evaluation by your client.

Continual improvement

Refinement means to distill and remove impurities. This means students will make their preferred concept more sophisticated, hone the use of techniques and materials, and fine tune the use of selected elements and principles of design. The purpose of Refinement is for a student to have created a real size and/ or displayable mock-up of the presentation for consideration of the client (or designers’ peer group). The process of refinement varies markedly depending on the kind of presentation format required and the field of design the communication need is within.

Refinement of selected concept

Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.

Communication design

Refinement of two-dimensional presentations involves an ongoing circular process beginning with on screen composition, making adjustments, printing, display in simulated context, evaluation and making further adjustments. Although the text, image, colour and motif content is set following evaluation at the conclusion of the Development of Concepts, Refinement will involve countless adjustments to the size and positions of visual elements when printed mock ups are tested in realistic locations. Print trial versions of large designs scaled to fit available printer sheet size to evaluate visual composition, hierarchy, balance, proportion, etc., but also print cropped areas of large format works at full scale on smaller sheets to pin them on a wall and evaluate type sizes for readability at a range of distances.

Print and construct full scale versions of packaging nets to test and evaluate the function of tabs and cut outs. Print mockups of logos and labels and apply to a variety of virtual and/ or real articles for evaluation in realistic contexts. Photograph your work to record the process of evaluation.

A variety of approaches

Drink coaster

Image
Monique Pretto, 2008.

Game logo design

Image
Navishka Fernando, 2016.

Industrial and Environmental Design

Designs within the fields of Industrial or Environmental design may be presented via two or three-dimensional presentations. Examples of two-dimensional presentation formats are technical drawings and pictorial representations like rendered isometric, planometric and perspective projections. Examples of three-dimensional presentation formats include models of buildings and full-scale prototypes of household appliances and hand-held tools and devices.

Refinement of three-dimensional design work is a two-stage process. First of all, real and genuine refinement should be effected on the form and surface of the object, the building, landscape or piece of industrial design. Students must be prepared to look critically at form, even when it has passed the Development of Concepts stage and subject it to rigorous refinement as one might expect do to two-dimensional designs like a ticket or poster. Refinement of industrial and environmental designs can be made in three-dimensional, two-dimensional or virtual workspaces.

Secondly the proposed presentation format requires development, refinement and evaluation. Where a student has elected three-dimensional presentation formats including models, refinement means making and adjusting physical models and/ or 3d prototype prints at full or reduced scales. A material like form-core is great for building models that explore form and volume quickly.

Where two-dimensional presentation formats are chosen as deliverables, development and refinement of technical drawings and illustrations take place. Given that the form of the industrial or environmental design is complete, refinement of technical drawings include adherence to standards and conventions. Refinement of illustrations include the manipulation of methods, materials and media and the elements of design including tone, form, light and shade.

A variety of approaches

Skateboard deck

Image
Lisa Peric, 2012.

Cafe interior

Image
Kate Gaylor, 2014.

The objective of Refinement

The objective of the Refinement stage is for students to have mockups emulating the proposed presentation formats that can be shown to the client and/ or anticipated target audience. These mockups form the basis for critical and reflective evaluation on a personal level, in a group tutorial format and/ or focus group form like the pitch required for the SAT in Visual Communication Design. When shown in a group evaluation the designer will usually be required to accompany their designs with a pro-forma or online survey where real or simulated members of the target audience and/ or the client can enter evaluations and rate them quantitively against criteria derived from components of the brief.

Annotating refinement

Press the image link at right to jump back up to annotations for this stage of the Design Process.

tasks

Refinement
Make it real
Get to work bringing presentation formats to life. Follow the steps shown above, noting the differences in expectations for refinement of Communication and Industrial and Environmental design.
Critical and reflective thinking

Refer to my page on Design Thinking for approaches to reflection and evaluation of design work. Ensure that the testing and evaluation of presentation formats post-refinement is fully documented showing;

  • the results of audience or focus group feedback
  • your reflection on opinions and advice
  • a justification of how the feedback can be incorporated into the resolution of final presentations.

Furthermore, if your brief included options for proposed presentation formats for consideration as the design process evolved, a final determination of the actual presentation format chosen for submission to the client (and for assessment) is made and documented during the evaluation of the Refinement or Pitch stage of the Design Process.

Image

Resolution of presentations.

The last stage of the Design Process is the construction and display of your completed concept.

At long last

The Resolutions of Presentation formats is when the deliverables promised in the brief are created for real. The first component of this phase is to ensure that feedback regarding the suitability of refined design concepts received as a result of focus groups and personal reflection, are fully analysed, documented and actioned. This may take considerable time, depending on the kind of changes required.

The second phase it to construct your final presentations. Similarly to the advice given for the Refinement stage above, guidelines for this stage will be approached separately for two and three-dimensional design.

Client presentation board

Image
Deborah Nguyen, 2019.

Two-dimensional presentation formats

Two-dimensional presentation formats such as a corporate identity package presented on a client presentation board, technical drawings, renderings and illustrations require some kind of ‘in-house studio’ presentation style to be created. This refers to the design of an effective layout, often with informative yet unobtrusive captions placed beside the components of the group of designs, to identify and explain their function within the suite of designs.

A mini design process is essential, including some Research of the presentation of identity packages sometimes called ‘flat lays’, Generation of Ideas considering a variety of grid layouts and the Development of typography and captions suitable for the presentation at a large format page size. Ensure that components of client presentations are aligned carefully. Drop shadows may also be used to enhance elements making them appear to float above the ground. In keeping with the advice given in the Refinement stage above, students should print both scaled versions of their final presentations to evaluate hierarchy and balance and cropped sections at  full scale, to ensure that type sizes, weights and colours are appropriate for the purposes in each section of the presentation.

A helpful tip for the selection of type on client presentations is to refrain from using decorative type forms or the same kind of type as used on the presentations themselves. Captions and descriptions should be restricted to a relatively neutral type form that allows the type used in presentations to stand forward, as it is these components that should be noticed. Similarly backgrounds, bands and logos that identify the designer will also be placed, sized and coloured so as to support, not dominate the presentation. Remember, an in-house studio presentation style does is not reflective of the style of the actual presentation, as a studio uses their in-house style from job to job, client to client. It is a generic, supportive style that can be used on any work.

Presentations including posters, pamphlets, books, record covers and packaging can be mocked-up for real. Just as the design of presentations applies in this stage, as described above, the choice of paper stock, colour and its surface need careful consideration. Papers need to be trialed, presentations need to be exported to PDF, often with printer’s and cut marks in place so papers can be trimmed to reveal a bleed where necessary, prior to assembly or binding. Methods of display stands and labelling are designed and constructed with an eye for both physically supporting brochures and similar presentations and visually accenting presentations.

Digital presentations like websites, motion graphics and animated logos need consideration for how they will be presented. Appropriate computer applications and displays need to be obtained and set up exclusively so as to enhance the presentations.

Annotating resolution of presentations

Press the image link at right to jump back up to annotations for this stage of the Design Process.

Communication design presentation formats

Corporate identity presentation
Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.
Cosmetic promotion poster
Image
Catriona Thompson, 2016.
Game design cover and poster
Image
Navishka Fernando, 2016.
Game vehicle design
Image
Navishka Fernando, 2016.
Music covers
Image
Alana Lacy, 2019.
App design
Image
Deborah Nguyen, 2019.

Three-dimensional presentation formats

Students should have a firm hand on the materials and methods of construction that will be used for resolved three-dimensional presentations well before they enter this phase of the Design Process. In most cases Resolution of Presentations for Industrial and Environmental design essentially involve the construction of the model or prototype. However, consideration needs to be given to the method of display and labelling of a three-dimensional presentation. Sensitivity is required for the surface and colour of supporting materials and type forms for labels. Some testing may be required to ensure the strength of supports for models.

At present, images below show two dimensional presentations from these design fields.

Industrial design presentation formats

Make up container and dispenser
Image
Alyssa Chau, 2019.
Hospital Bed concept presentation
Image
Tori Salvaggio, 2014.

Environmental design presentation formats

Image coming
Image
Credit coming.
 

Authentication

One word of caution for students working in this phase of the design process is that they must be mindful that when they are using support from others like commercial printing, binding, 3D printing, web design, CAD or any other specialists in their process it is the student that must be able to demonstrate creative control and direction over the process. Therefore the consideration of the selection of stock, printing and binding methods for example need to be documented and evidence placed within the folio prior to submission of work for assessment.

tasks

Resolution of presentations
Critical and reflective thinking

Using Critical and Reflective thinking, consider feedback received in focus groups and personal reflection about the refined presentations you presented for evaluation. Re-check the brief to ensure that evaluation is to target.

Update documentation
Document adjustments that should be made to designs as they are resolved for presentation.
Design client presentations
Design final presentations, setting out and recording and additional research, planning and development in photos, sketches and written annotations.

Seek specialist help where needed

Test materials, construction and print methods, obtain assistance from specialists where necessary recording the role of people assisting. Ensure that you also document evidence to show that design decisions were made by you.
Final resolution

Construct presentations.

Construct display supports for presentations.

Test presentations in real or simulated contexts.

Label presentations appropriately for assessment.