We are inherently creative beings and have a desire and need to make the world around us more livable. The design process is born out of this need. And at its core design is about problem-solving. Whether in engineering, architecture or communication, the design process follows a similar methodology of problem definition, research, concept development, design and prototype development, and evaluation.
There are two general approaches to the design process, linear and agile. A linear process is one of the strict controls and is primarily used to manage risk in the development process. Each phase must be fully completed before going onto the next, allowing designers to catch errors when they are least expensive and time-consuming to fix. The linear method is straightforward but requires discipline if it’s to work effectively.
The key is the interaction of team members, whose multidisciplinary backgrounds allows the team to address the project from multiple perspectives at all stages. This became known as the agile method. This method embraces change and circumstances, approaching the project, knowing that it will require iteration as it progresses.
During the design process, it is essential to realize that most design project scenarios will not be predictive but will require flexibility and the ability to react to new information and circumstances. Most importantly, the process is iterative and requires the directions, concepts, and designs are continuously refined to achieve a final design. Though the agile approach is not as rigid as the linear approach, it still requires a great deal of discipline and needs to be well managed as there are many opportunities for breakdowns, given its free-flowing nature.
Essentially the design process allows designers to consider all of the critical facets of a design problem, and it provides transparency in the way that they work. The goal of using a process is not to make the “magic” creative moment scientific. Instead, the process offers opportunities to prepare the mind and provide tools to facilitate meaningful creative explorations.
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