A design is basically a blueprint or a mathematical description of the physical structure or arrangement of an object, a building or a machine, or the resultant of this blueprint or mathematical description in the form of some object, material or process. The word ‘design’ has several meanings and is sometimes used in different ways. It can be used as a noun with the meaning ‘fashionable’, ‘customable’ or ‘compatible’.
To employ a designer to create a complex system, many ideas must first be brainstormed. In other words, the designer is required to have an understanding of the full range of possible solutions to a given problem. The process may be a long one, or it may be a very short one depending on the available resources. The primary role of the designer is to comprehend the problem statement and then use their knowledge and skills in developing a workable design process that will meet the needs of the clients involved. The word ‘design’ is also used in the context of defining a problem or a set of problems for which solutions are sought.
Designing involves the use of many innovative thinking processes and strategies. There is no single method or approach to good design thinking. Each designer has their own unique style and way of approaching problems. A common approach to design thinking is the use of the problem-statement approach. It consists of first listing the issues that the client wants solved and exploring solutions based upon the requirements identified by the client.
One important element in developing an effective design thinking methodology is the designer’s use of conceptual mapping. This concept is often referred to as the strong architecture of design thinking. It includes the observation that objects, people and their relationships can be understood and evaluated using an ordered set of interrelated parts. Designers then put together all the relevant details and information into an image, diagram or 3-D illustration that clearly represents what they are trying to achieve. These visual representations are used by the designers as a tool to create a strong framework or a strong design thinking framework.
In relation to the strong architecture of design thinking, another key component is the brainstorming process. Designers must consistently come up with as many ideas as possible. This process is typically combined with the idea generation and ideation stage by adding in more inputs from the clients and other people involved in the project. Many ideas emerge from the brainstorming session and are used by the designer to develop a new perspective or design concept.
Designers may rely on the ideas that emerge during the ideation and brainstorming stage. They use these ideas to build the skeleton for their design thinking framework. When it comes to the actual process of visual designing, however, designers have to be careful not to over-abuse the ideation and brainstorming stage. After all, if this were done, the client would be in such a hurry to have the product finished that all the vital stages of the design thinking process would be forgotten.