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Although each new or improved made thing will involve its own set of unique problems to be solved, and therefore the process of going from initial idea to final product varies considerably, design activities do have some common features.

Some of these common features include:

  • examining and analysing a given problem
  • undertaking research and collecting data and information about the problem and factors influencing it
  • analysing the data and information
  • preparing a design brief and specification against which design proposals can be tested
  • preparing design proposals and presenting these for evaluation
  • testing and selecting the most promising proposal for further development
  • bringing this to a practical conclusion. Design can also involve
  • giving new or updated products an attractive visual form, style and image
  • ensuring the new or updated products are easy to use and safe for all users
  • ensuring that new or updated products are economical to manufacture.

The design process is a cyclic, ongoing, developmental process of generating ideas, testing these ideas and selecting the ideas that work best.

This developmental cycle begins with a range of possibilities and general ideas (conceptual designs) and gradually reaches a point where particular and fine details of the final product (final specifications) have been decided.

Product development often begins with producing a design brief.

Design Brief

A design brief, when the product or service is requested by a client, is developed in collaboration with the client to ensure that it will meet the client’s needs/wants. The minimum requirement for a design brief is that it states the product’s basic function, i.e. what it must do, and a cost/price target. Often, however, it will include more than this. A comprehensive design brief might contain:

  • evidence of actual or potential customer demand
  • indication of target user group
  • basic performance requirements
  • target costs and selling price
  • advantages over existing and/or competing products
  • special features of the product
  • guidelines on appearance, style and image
  • list of legal requirements, standards and codes of practice
  • requirements for reliability and durability
  • recommended materials and quality of finish
  • ergonomic requirements
  • safety requirements
  • timetable and deadlines.

Get unit plan: Designing a new product from potato starch


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