The Design Process isn’t ‘One-Size-Fits-All’

There isn’t one design process. You can’t be told how to design. As design students we have the ‘Design Process’ repeatedly hammered into our brain from week one of our degrees. Like the lost lambs we first years were, these instructions were followed almost religiously. We knew no better. But is that really the best method?

The ‘Double Diamond’ Design Process

Every design institute’s processes differ, but what doesn’t differ is that they are all adamant that theirs is the design process. And we are expected to follow this step-by-step guide for all the projects we are to complete.

The primary issue that I have with this is that one project can vary massively from the last. The time-frame, client, product sector, whether you are doing a conceptual design or developing an existing product. All of these factors have a significant impact on how you should carry out the project. If you were a baker, you wouldn’t use the exact same process every time expecting to get a different result. A Pancake is not quite the same as a Yorkshire Pudding now is it?

I agree that Research belongs at the very start of the project; in order to create a successful and viable product you must fully understand the sector and current market, among other things. But research must not be exclusive to the initial stage. Research is likely to be required at all points of the process, but with some design processes there simply isn’t a place for this.

The ‘New Process’

Why should CAD only be used once the design is finalised? For some designers, myself included, creating iterations of a design using a 3D modelling program is considerably faster than sketching it out. With modelling software becoming increasingly more intuitive, and with 3D printing’s accessibility improving, why in some institutes is this frowned upon? If it works and will ultimately improve the final outcome, then do it.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see the value of a design process… when it is used as a guide. If you are lost on a project it can assist you with finding your way back to the path, it can provide structure and can also make the marking job for your lecturer a hell of a lot easier… but that’s a different boat all together.

Institutes need to be more allowing of how students work, a process that works for an individual may be seen as a nightmare work flow for another. Restricting the process to one set of stages will only reduce creativity in individuals.

This blog became a little more of a rant than I had originally planned it to be, but the point still stands… do whatever works best for you.