Design strategies

User-centered design is one kind of design strategy available

It is important for a designer to use a variety of design strategies to be able to generate the most innovative and functional solution to a design problem. This will help to gather information and feedback from others to ensure the best design to fit the brief is created. Different projects might benefit from different kinds of design strategy.

Collaboration

Working with others is an excellent way of gaining feedback for designs. Many companies use groups of designers with different tastes, ideas and specialities to allow a diverse range of opinions to be acted on.

User-centred design

User-centred design is a different style of designing from iterative design, as it bases the design of a product around the needs of the target market rather than the continual development of iterations. The user is questioned and consulted throughout development, and evidence is gathered through questionnaires, interviews, testing and observations, and the results are used to improve the product.

Systems approach to designing

Designing certain products, eg electrical products, may require a different technique known as a systems approach. This logical approach is particularly useful in electronics where there is an input, process and output, as each stage has to perform a specific function before moving on to the next step.

Block diagrams can be written, usually in boxes, with the headings input, process, and output. When planning how a circuit will function, these headings are then used to plan what the input, process and output could be.

In the case of designing an electric piano keyboard, the input is pressing the key, the process is generating the correct music note and the output is sound through the speaker. Systems approach should not be confused with schematic diagrams, which show how an electronic system should be connected together.

A simple block diagram of the input, process and output of an electronic piano keyboard.Example of a block diagram

A systems approach flowchart relates specifically to the design of a process. They can be used for programming a circuit so that a programmable chip can process an input and then turn on an output. Different shapes in a flowchart represent different types of operation, and these shapes have the same meaning worldwide.

Flowchart symbols. Oval represents start/end, parallelogram input/output, diamond, decisions, rectangle is processes and arrow is a connector showing relationships between shapes.

Quality assurance decisions can also be added during the design process to ensure that problems are picked up and fixed within the system, eg a decision stage checking the dimensions of a part that has been manufactured.

A simple flowchart for printing a design with quality assurance. After printing the design, has the design printed accurately? The flowchart loops if not.An example flowchart for printing a design, including a quality assurance decision