What is design development?

Design development is the process of improving a design or making it suitable for a particular purpose. Design development can change a hazy idea into a clear and detailed plan and it can change a design from what it is into what we want it to be. These changes to a design are called modifications.

Design development involves:

  1. looking closely at an idea, design or product (i.e. studying and analysing it to learn something about it)
  2. judging it (i.e. evaluating it. An objective evaluation involves testing a product or design to check that it matches the specification precisely; a subjective evaluation involves making judgments by applying emotions, prejudices, likes and dislikes)
  3. thinking of how it could be improved (i.e. how it could be modified and made better)
  4. recording the modified design (usually by drawing or modelling the design).

This process can be repeated over and over again until a suitable design is found.

Design development may be carried out by one person or the process of analysis, evaluation and modification may be carried out by groups of people.

Iterative design development

Iterative design development is a cyclic process of analysing, evaluating and modifying ideas, designs and products.

Design development cycle; iterative design development

Each modification may be a small change to the previous design or the modification may be a major change.

Evaluating and modifying; iterative design development

Sequential design development

A linear model of the design process is an example of sequential design, i.e. start with a design brief » analyse it » specify what the solution should be like » design it » make it » implement it.

However, a design can be developed by starting with an idea and making a series of modifications in a logical sequential order, e.g. by making minor changes to the design of the chair shown below.

Sequential design development

A designer may use the iterative method of design development, or a sequential method, or both, e.g. a designer may record a sequence of design ideas quickly then analyse and evaluate the latest design before progressing further in a sequence of new ideas.

There are two starting points for design development

  1. The first starting point is an idea for a design. The design development process involves developing a hazy idea into a clear and detailed design.

  2. The second starting point involves taking an existing design and modifying it in some way, i.e. developing the design from what it is into something new and better.

Both types of design development involve planning and recording changes made to a design.

1. Developing a hazy idea into a detailed design

Design development
Click on the screenshot above to view the "developing a hazy idea" animation by Laszlo Lipot

An image showing the Flash animation logo SWF Flash logo is a link to a Flash animation.

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2. Changing a design into something new and better

Design development explained
Click on the screenshot above to view the "Design Development" animation by Laszlo Lipot

Designs may be developed in many ways, including:


Design development directory

Click here to view the PDF version of this resource. Iterative design development PDF
Copyright Laszlo Lipot.