Tom Starley

Written by Tom Starley

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What is Design?

Design is what links creativity and innovation.

It shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users or customers. Design may be described as ‘creativity deployed to a specific end’.

How do designers design?

Every designer has a slightly different approach and different design specialisms also have their own ways of working, but there are some general activities common to all designers. The processes below are advocated as best practice by the **Design Council and form their ‘Double Diamond’ model.

Divided into four distinct phases, Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver, it maps how the design process passes from points where thinking and possibilities are as broad as possible, to situations where they are deliberately narrowed down and focused precisely on distinct objectives.

Discover

This discovery forms the start of a project. Designers try to look at the world in a fresh way, noticing new things and seeking inspiration. They gather insights, developing an opinion about what they see, deciding what is new and interesting, and what will inspire new ideas. Specific methods include: Market research, user research, managing and planning and design research groups.

Define

The definition stage, in which designers try to make sense of all the possibilities identified in the discover phase. Which matters most? Which should we act on first? The goal here is to develop a clear creative brief that frames the fundamental design challenge to the organisation. Key methods during the Define stage are: Project development, project management and project sign-off.

Develop

The third quarter marks a period of development where solutions are created, prototyped, tested and iterated. This process of trial and error helps designers to improve and refine their ideas. Key activities and objectives during the develop stage are: Brainstorming , prototyping, multi-disciplinary working, visual management, development methods and testing.

Deliver

The final quarter of the double diamond model is the delivery stage, where the resulting product or service is finalised and launched. The key activities and objectives during this stage are: Final testing, approval and launch, targets, evaluation and feedback loops.

What is design?

Defining design and the creative process is complicated, making it difficult to capture simply. This sort of explanation can at least help make it appear a little less mysterious.