Anyone Can Be A Designer

DigitalIntelligence

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We all design things daily without noticing we design them.

Preparing food, gardening, and many other chores require design thinking and approach.

If you are raising kids, you certainly undertake some design activities. You may be designing their daily routines and many needs.

Before taking a design activity, we need to understand the problem. A design activity solves a problem and produces a solution. Designers start asking questions. Good questions and an attempt to answer them bring solution options.

An analysis is a vital part of the design process. Sometimes we may not be aware of conducting design, but we always compare and contrast things. Our mind works very fast. When we come across an obvious solution, we sometimes rush to implement it. Quality solutions require time and effort.

A little extra thinking time and producing more options can bring novelty. It is also good for our brain to exercise.

We can look at the problems from different perspectives. We can categorize them as scientific, technological, practical, business, educational, personal, financial, etc.

The more perspectives we create and the deeper we go, the easier the problem can be understood and solved.

I divide solution designs into two main categories. I call these categories creative and procedural.

The creative aspects of the design process require imagination. Some call imagination a vision because designers create a mental image of the product they design.

To be able to design, we need to create a path. It is called a strategy. Without having a strategy, it is not possible to reach our design goal. The strategy includes having a mental picture of how to achieve a solution at a high level.

Sometimes people confuse design with the invention. Inventors design a solution but not all design is inventions.

In broad terms, designing is to connect several components coherently to create a functional product or service.

Creating coherence requires integration skills. Integrating components and elements are essential for designers. Integration refers to logically, physically, and functionally combining, contrasting, and linking objects.

The procedural aspect of design requires a methodical approach. A method shows us examples from a successfully completed design outcome. Some methodical approaches can be complicated and take too long to understand. Methods are also context-specific. Designing a food project and gardening project will require different methods.

Let me explain a methodical approach at a high level with simple terms.

We start with understanding the requirements of the solution.

We can ask questions of the user about the solution. For example, if we design a gardening project, we talk with the owner of the garden. We ask them what they want by asking many questions about the type of materials, look of the landscape, colour and so on.

The purpose of requirements is to determine what the user will want with a specific object that we design. We try to understand how, when, and where they will be using it. How often they will be using it. The more questions we ask, the better we can understand and confirm the requirements.

By asking questions, we can understand the use cases of the solution.

Every design solution must have one or more use cases.

Without validating the requirements and understanding the use cases, it can be tough to design something acceptable. Most of the design problems occur due to not understood and validated requirements and use cases.

Therefore, validating requirements and use cases are the most critical parts of designing a solution.

We need to be detailed and precise for each requirement and use case. Otherwise, our solution cannot meet the desired quality. If we design something and the user does not like it, our solution will simply fail. We waste our time and the user’s time. And in some projects, the design also associates with the cost. A failed project can cost both designer and the consumer.

Some people don’t like documenting and drawing, but this is essential for the design process.

Once we validated the requirements and use cases, we can create a simple diagram of our solution context. This simple context diagram shows the main parts of the solution. This diagram can also show essential relationships between the parts and components.

Depending on the project we work on, we can create a model for the solution.

A model represents the smallest scale of our final design product.

Some people develop the model on paper and some on a computer screen.

In a simple design, usually, one model can be enough. But in complex projects, there may be multiple design models.

After creating a model, we can document each part's details and the relational elements of these parts. Depending on the type of product we are designing, we can describe the attributes and features accordingly.

Attributes can include colour, size, dimensions, and type of materials.

A function is a critical concept in the design process. We can think of functions as the features of the productions. For example, our design can perform functions such as cooking, cleaning, watering and so on.

Once we document details for functions, we can start the integration process. Integration means connecting and combining items based on the requirements and use cases coherently.

Some items may require linking, some contrasting, and some can have various other relationships.

After completing the integration process, we can create a prototype or the first version of the product. In the business world, we call it a minimum viable product (MVP). This concept refers to the bare minimum effort for creating minimum functional requirements.

Every design requires testing. The first test can be a proof of concept. We test whether the concept would work.

A proof of concept can be conducted based on the requirements and use cases of the product validated previously.

We can take many other tests based on the size and complexity of the project.

The purpose of the test is to obtain the necessary feedback from the progressing solution.

Testing can help us determine whether the product is ready to implement as the first version.

If our tests are successful, we can proceed to the implementation phase and go to the next version of the product. So we can further improve the product in the next version.

When the tests fail, the designer examines the solution and looks for faults such as logic errors.

When errors are identified, necessary adjustments and amendments are made, and we can test the designed product again. In the business world, this frequent testing approach aiming to get the minimum viable product is called the agile method.

Agile means quick design, development, and implementation of a project.

Using an agile approach, we can create more economical, faster, and higher quality design products. Many business organizations commonly use agile methods. We can design products and services in every field by using an agile approach.

Some design process can be very comprehensive and involved. For example, if we design a first of a kind and customized solution, it may require a lot of time, effort, and materials.

Anyone can be a designer at home and in small businesses.

Becoming a professional designer requires undertaking advanced level courses specializing in designing specific domains, disciplines, and industries.

Design activities, approaches, and methods can be different in businesses.

I hope this high level and simplified approach can provide a valuable guide to think like a designer and undertake some simple design projects methodically.

Thank you for reading my perspectives.

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I write about important and valuable life lessons. My ultimate goal is to delight my readers. My content aims to inform and engage my readers. Truth, diversity, collaboration, and inclusiveness are my core values. I am a pragmatic technologist, scientist, postdoctoral academic and industry researcher focusing on practical and important life matters for the last four decades.

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