The Process

Many of the challenges presented to us require new ideas - things that have yet to exits. Coming up with new ideas involves a mixture of creative thinking, strategy and the ability to construct prototypes and visualise concepts. This is the process of Design. 

The process that a product designer uses to innovate new products can be applied to areas that are not typically associated with design, for example the development of strategies, systems, policies or services. It is a process that involves working closely with the people who will use, or experience the end outcome, to discover new opportunities for design outcomes, and test these quickly and effectively before developing the final solution.

We break this process down into three stages: Research & Insight, Analysis & Ideation, and Design & Development. 

This process is by no means linear. It can be incredibly messy and repetitive. Each phase exists as a cycle. Where we go back and forth as we play with ideas, develop our understanding, and craft new and exciting experience. You can imagine this like three washing machines. 

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In the research and insight is an explorative phase of user-led research where we discover as much as we can about the challenge presented to us. During this phase we spend time getting to know people (the audience), how they operate and behave. What their current experiences are, and what their future expectations could be. We implement a number of design research methods, including interviews, stakeholder shadowing, user journey mapping, workshop facilitation and future casting. From the research data we derive insights – little nuggets of information that have some value, or tension within them, before moving into the Analysis & Ideation phase.

The analysis phase begins with a process of theming and categorising insights. We start to make sense of the data, by pulling it apart and experimenting with it. Using an abductive reasoning process, design opportunities start to emerge, and we start to ask what if? 

During this phase, we start testing ideas as they emerge. Creating quick prototypes of products using disposable materials, and testing these with people, and stakeholders. The analysis phase can go through a number of interactions, with several concepts taken forward to prototyping the stage.

When we have a final design concept decided upon, we start to develop it into a final deliverable outcome. This involves further iterations as the design is developed and tested with the end-users. 

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This approach is very open, and adjustable to fit many different types of projects. Some projects require very little research, and more design development. Some projects start with an idea, and move backwards to the research in order to strengthen the idea. Every project is different, and requires a unique approach. But this framework provides a simple overview that we can use to guide people through our process, and help us construct a timeframe for delivery. 

This is loosely based on the Design Council Double Diamond model. A framework for design projects that is often taught to students at design school. The double diamond features four phases, two of which are divergent and explorative, the other two are convergent in order to refine and define. The convergent and divergent lines make the shape of two diamonds, hence the name double diamond. Below we have provided a brief overview of the four stages of the double diamond process: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver.

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