Describing the Design Process

I thought that for the first Friday Blog Post that I would briefly describe the design process as it is the basis for everything that we do. Any great product must effectively meet the needs of the user; it doesn't matter if that product is a book or a boat. It could be a set of plans or the boat described by the set of plans. Defining what something is or is intended to do or accomplish is where it all starts.


Step #1 is the DESIGN STATEMENT:

This should state the purpose of the item, as an example we would say the purpose of the boat. Further the design statement should quantify the major design attributes in a decreasing order of merit. Consider the two design attributes of seaworthiness and speed. Ranking these with either one being the more important would potentially change the design considerably. Of course design attributes do not need to be viewed as competing with one another or mutually exclusive.


Step #2 is the CONCEPTUAL DESIGN PHASE

This is the point at which we try to determine if a design is most likely feasible. It is during this phase that we define the physical attributes of the item. For a boat we would identify the principle dimensions, the general arrangement plan, major weights, etc. It is during this phase that we produce the initial concept drawings.


Step #3 is the PRELIMINARY DESIGN PHASE

Our goals during this phase is to determine the HOWs. This is the time to start on calculations to develop an understanding of the design from the standpoints of stability, structural considerations and performance. Now is when we work on determining how to get the CONCEPTUAL DESIGN to meet the requirements outlined in the DESIGN STATEMENT.


Step #4 is the DETAILED DESIGN PHASE

Once we have set a design goal, produced a general concept of the design, and ultimately determined how to meet that goal, it becomes time to produce the actual design. This is when we produce what I call the deliverables of the design. The Detailed Design Phase outlines the project.


By following a consistent design process, by revisiting and redefining earlier phases, and by communicating throughout these phases with a client we can ensure that the product we ultimately deliver to them matches as closely as possible with their expectations.

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