Design development

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Design development
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Design development is a specific phase of a project, connected with creating a new product or a service, prepared by an architect, an engineer or simply – a designer. The design concept is featured by detailed documentation. The documentation is understood as: a specification such as an architecture or a system (an electrical, a mechanical, a structural) in form of a presentation, a drawing etc.. During that stage scope or parameters of design might change. The end of the phase should be overview and approval of projects’ owner and fulfilling all adjustments if required. Also, the designer or a coordinator of project (if there is one) should review timelines of project just after this stage.

Cost of design development phase

At this stage cost of the project can be reviewed as specific components of the product or the service are presented in much more detailed way. Moreover, it is important to keep clear communication between the designer and the client to avoid future failures. This phase usually is covered by small cost in comparison to the whole project cost. It is assumed that better prepared is the design development stage, less money is spent for repairing the failures discovered later (for example during implementation of the project) [1].

Examples of steps in design development

G. L. Glegg defines five steps to establish the idea at design development stage[2]:

  1. Definition of the idea,
  2. Prediction of “behavior” of idea (design, product, service etc.),
  3. Direct testing the idea,
  4. Comparison of predicted and actual results,
  5. Repeating above steps in different circumstances.

M. Vianna and others recommends slightly different approach towards innovations by meeting four preliminary stages of thinking while creating new product or service[3]::

  1. Immersion – stage when designer tries to understand context of the problem from the point of view of clients and users. Techniques that could be used are: Reframing, Exploratory Research, Desk Research, Interviews, Cultural Probes, Generative sessions, A Day in the Life, Shadowing.
  2. Analyses and synthesis – through deep insight from previous stage all needed data is collected, designer sees patterns and is able to identify problem more accurately. Valuable techniques are: Insight Cards, Affinity Diagram, Conceptual Map, Guiding Criteria, Personas, Emphathy Map, User's journey, Blueprint.
  3. Ideation – the goal of this stage is to use gained in the process knowledge and stimulate a creativity. The output will be ideas how to solve the existing problem. Recommended are: Brainstorming, Co-creation workshops, Idea Menu, Decision Matrix.
  4. Prototyping – physical way to validate the ideas and access potential effectiveness of each of solutions generated in Ideation phase., Paper Prototyping, Volumetric Model, Staging, Storyboard, Service Prototyping.

As another example, W. L. Troxer while preparing project for U.S. department of Defense and U.S. Department of Energy defined following factors of design development stage. Firstly goal was defined, then basis design created (including necessary equipment and its selection). Later on a project team included modifications and focused on pre and post treatment of the design. They took here into consideration aspects of control and safety requirements. Next they developed specifications and could prepare all cost related. Just after cost review, validation of design took place. The latest step was requiring all necessary permits[4]::

Author: Anita Bernacka


  1. S. A. Hess, J. V. Bales, P. D. Folk, L. T. Holt, Design Professional and construction manager law, ABA Publishing, 2007
  2. G. L. Glegg, The Development of Design, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1981
  3. M. Vianna, Y. Vianna, I. K. Adler, B. Lucena, B. Russo., Design Thinking, Business Innovation, MJV Tecnologia Itda., 2011
  4. * W. L. Troxer, Innovative site remediation technology: design and application, American Academy of Environmental Engineers, 1997, p. 224 - 344


  • Austin R. (2010), Unmanned aircraft systems. UAVS design, development and deployment. John Wiley and Sons LTD., UK
  • European Commission (2015), SafeSeaNet System Design Document, European Maritime Safety Agency, Portugal
  • Glegg G. L. (1981), The Development of Design, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, New York
  • Hess S. A., Bales J. V., Folk P. D., Holt L. T. (2007), Design Professional and construction manager law, ABA Publishing, USA
  • Olsen K.H. (2016), The project design document, DTU Library, Denmark
  • Troxer W. L. (1997), Innovative site remediation technology: design and application, American Academy of Environmental Engineers, USA
  • Vianna M., Vianna Y., Adler I. K., Lucena B., Russo B. (2011), Design Thinking. Business Innovation, MJV Tecnologia Itda, Brazil