The Design Process Part 3

Developmental process

Evaluation of research
This part of the process evaluates all source material with scrutiny and rigour. The gathered information should have integrity and support the project objectives. An evaluation considers: authority of sources; breadth and depth of coverage of the subject; accuracy of the information; how current the information is; the level of bias expressed; and the relevance of the information.

Observe real people in real situations
Observing how people react in certain situations can often inform the design process more than a page of statistics. How are people struggling with a situation? How do they cope with following a set of instructions? Is the design of the instructions at fault or the design of the product? Observations can isolate where the real problem may lie. It is also useful for the team working on the project to experience first-hand the situation they are designing for and act out the scenarios. The product design company Ideo has called this physical process ‘bodystorming’, a complimentary activity to the more familiar ‘brainstorming’. The product design company Seymour Powell have a ‘break and make’ concept which involves a fault finding process ie keep breaking the idea and remake it until you can no longer find a fault.

Put yourself in the users’ position
The film director Mike Leigh will often place his actors in real life scenarios in order to develop plot and dialogue through improvisation whilst enabling the actors to experience the reactions of others to their characters. Information designers can experience life from the perspective of the potential user by immersing themselves in their world. Bob Gill suggested at a lecture at the London College of Communication that if you are going to design an identity for a laundrette then go and sit in the laundrette, hear the noises and smell the chemicals.

The use of simple visualisation techniques such as drawing a diagram or scribbling an idea down makes a potential concept more concrete than an idea in the head. A drawing can be the first prototype. The product and interaction designer Philip Joe has commented that pencils and paper are technology as well. Joe designed the notion of layers in a software program using tracing paper and pencils. Visual thinking can produce serendipitous ‘happy accidents’ that cerebral thinking can’t always replicate.