The Design Process

Design is not a single process. It falls into a number of clearly-defined stages that are outlined below. This section describes the design process in general terms, and provides some tips for successfully working with a designer. Most design projects go through five core stages, although this may vary for particular projects or design disciplines.

Stage 1 - Research, strategy or feasibility

The designer collects all available information relevant to the project. This would include a written brief, existing background material and any new research deemed necessary for the project. This information is analysed and initial proposals are developed which cover the objectives, feasibility, budget forecast and general direction of a design project.

Stage 2 - Design concepts

When the initial proposal has been accepted, preliminary design ideas are developed, normally as sketches or concepts. Where it is helpful, the designer creates models or mock-ups to simulate the finished result. Feedback from these concepts is used for further design development and subsequent models or drawings. Usually one concept is chosen and developed from this stage. Approximate costings for implementation are also calculated at this stage.

Stage 3 - Detailed design development

The preliminary designs are worked up in further detail to show all the elements of the project in place. Models and mock-ups may also be used at this stage to create a detailed specification of the design for production planning and final costing. This is also the stage where applications for planning permission or listed building consent would be made.

Stage 4 - Implementation

At this stage, artwork, finished drawings or other design outputs are produced as the basis for the final stage of the project, which could be printing, manufacture, building or installation. This is the stage where architects and interior designers produce technical drawings for the production process and apply for technical permissions such as building regulations. If other parties are involved in the final outcome, this is the stage where tenders might be requested.

Stage 5 - Supervision of production

To ensure that the finished results meet the agreed quality levels, the designer may oversee production through to completion.