The Design Process, Prototyping, and Sustainability.

Three concepts that you should be aware of and think through are The Design Process, Prototyping, and Sustainability.


Below is a very good article on the Design Process written by Katrina Costedio.  Please READ IT ALL, then spend time thinking about it.   How have you in the past approached projects that you have had for school, and other areas of you life?  Will this ‘workflow’ or process help you?


A Good Foundation.
Good design is the foundation of everything we do at KCD (Katrina Costedio Design). It’s not just our job. We live it, breathe it and eat it. We talk about it incessantly and we’re very, very good at it. Technically speaking, design is the visual synthesis of ideas. The careful juxtaposition of words and images to convey a message. But the ramifications of design are infinite. Design choices not only shape the image and growth of your company they also weave the fabric of our cultural experience. It’s a weighty thing, no doubt, but don’t worry; we’ve got it handled.

The role of the designer is multi-faceted. We are problem-solvers, first and foremost. Each project represents a problem and the goal is to find the best solution. Communication, analysis, research, visualisation, management, organisation, critical thinking; all these are skills necessary to solve your unique problem. Add to that list understanding colour relationships, hierarchy, structure, typography and pacing plus a heavy dose of courage and determination and you have the basic skill-set of a good designer.


The Design Process: What to expect.
As the client, you are most interested in the final product. But to us, the beauty lies in the journey. We want to take you with us on this exhilarating journey through research, brainstorming, conceptualization, experimentation, and execution.

Whatever your project, our process is essentially the same.


Discovery Meeting/Project Briefing.

Together we sit down and discuss the basic elements of your project. We determine the project goals and the message of the design, discuss budget and schedule restrictions, we outline our relationship with one another and establish responsibilities of involved parties. Next we discuss the intended audience for the project; their unique characteristics, their needs and how they will interact with the piece.

During the research phase, we learn everything we can about your industry, company, competitors and market. We look at all the materials you’ve produced in the past as well as your competitor’s materials. If you are chemists; we dust off our periodic table, if you fix cars; we study pistons. In order to elicit inspiration and make educated design decisions, we need to be immersed in you and what you do.

Brainstorming takes on many forms. It can be a whiteboard covered with seemingly random words and doodles. It can be a free association list of words, a bunch of pictures cut from a magazine. It often involves lots of coffee and some wandering around downtown (where I think best). This is where we come up with ideas for the next phase, conceptualization.

This is the unifying idea that will drive the piece. It will be what creates interest and depth, provides focus and cohesion. This phase defines the single, focused idea that steers the design through the rest of the process. We take all of our ideas from the brainstorming phase and distill them into one perfect solution.

During this phase, I generally sketch out a number of thumbnails of my basic, concept-driven layout. We experiment with different layouts and grids, typefaces, proportions, colour palettes and sequencing. Having experimented with enough ideas, we choose the best solution and develop it, generally producing slight variations along the way so that again, we can choose the best solution. At the end of this phase, we have another meeting. I show you what has been developed, we make final decisions and are ready to execute.

Execution, in this sense, doesn’t involve any electric seating or gallows. It is simply when we make final touches to the design and either send it to the printer or launch it. Oftentimes, this seemingly simple step can become more complicated than expected. Fortunately, I used to work on the production side of things and so have excellent relationships with printers. And for web clients, we have excellent IT team members who can gracefully navigate even the most harrowing launch.

Problem-Solving Techniques

Problem-solving is an unavoidable part of a manager’s job. In fact, if you are working as a manager, problem solving is what your job is all about. Problem solving can be described as a thought process that takes on a problem and find ways to get around it. Even though a majority of all people will consider them a problem-solver, there are very few who are actually capable of getting to the root cause and finding a . It’s easy to be a part of project that’s turning out well but it’s only after some problem arises when the more knowledgeable workers are differentiated from the average employee.  and experience are perhaps two most basic requirements but one needs to be strong minded and confident as well. Small problems like working out a dispute between two workers can be solved on the spot. However, complex problems must be tackled more methodically, following are some of the methods used for problem-solving.


Brainstorming is largely discussed in management courses, in spite of the fact that various researches have proved it to be unproductive and not that effective. Still, brainstorming has its clear advantages, the most obvious being the participation of entire team. In brainstorming, the point is to create an exhaustive list of all possible  along with the plus and minuses. However, this  largely deals with the quantity and not quality, because not all of them are capable of coming up with quality ideas, still they’d take it personally if someone else’s solution was selected over theirs.


Scientific research is a method often used by scientists, where different hypothesis are tested for their accuracy by different experiments and the most accurate one is accepted as the better one (not best, since there’s always an outside chance of some better and more precise hypothesis, shaping up in the future). A hypothesis is merely a prediction, based on the  and experience of the person making this hypothesis. Take the example of an online business depending on organic traffic coming from Top rankings in search engine page. Now the algorithm that search engines used is a closely-held secret, in case, the rankings start dropping, the business will make hypothesis about the possible reasons and take corrective actions on experimental basis. If it works, the changes will be applied on a much larger scale, if not, the company will move on to another hypothesis.

Before you get down to problem-solving using any of these methods, you must define the problem in clear words, at times finding the actual problem can be a part of problem-solving process. Once you’ve got to the bottom of any problem, it is quite easy to resolve.  (Text source

If we are to go deeper into this we need to take a look at two different models:

Design process: rational model versus action-centric model

Rational model:
– Sequential design
– and sequential design with concepts

The Rational Model is based on a rationalist philosophy[10] and underlies the waterfall model,[16]systems development life cycle,[17] and much of the engineering design literature.[18] According to the rationalist philosophy, design is informed by research and knowledge in a predictable and controlled manner. Technical rationality is at the centre of the process. (Text source
Action-centric model:
– Concurrent design
– and set-based concurrent design

The Action-Centric Perspective is based on an empiricist philosophy and broadly consistent with the Agile approach[23] and a methodical development.[24] Substantial empirical evidence supports the veracity of this perspective in describing the actions of real designers.[21] Like the Rational Model, the Action-Centric model sees design as informed by research and knowledge. However, research and knowledge are brought into the design process through the judgment and common sense of designers – by designers “thinking on their feet” – more than through the predictable and controlled process stipulated by the Rational Model. Designers’ context-dependent experience and professional judgment take center stage more than technical rationality.

(Text source


Concurrent design is based on concurrent engineering principles (source 2) and differs from the more traditional sequential design flow, or ‘Waterfall Model’ by using an iterative or integrated development method. The difference between these two methods is that the ‘Waterfall’ method moves in a linear fashion by starting with user requirements and sequentially moving forward to design, implementation and additional steps until you have a finished product. In this design system, a design team would not look backwards or forwards from the step it is on to fix possible problems. In the case that something does go wrong, the design usually must be scrapped or heavily altered. Compared to this, the iterative concurrent design process is more cyclic in that, all aspects of the life cycle of the product are taken into account, allowing for a more evolutionary approach to design. The difference between the two design processes can be seen graphically in the figure bellow.  (

Image source

(Image source


For me when I’m working up graphics/images my sketchbook becomes my place of working through the design process, but when I go see a client I would have worked up a more defined example of what I want to do in a more ellaborate medium.


prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.[1] It is a term used in a variety of contexts, including semanticsdesignelectronics, and software programming. A prototype is generally used to evaluate a new design to enhance precision by system analysts and users. Prototyping serves to provide specifications for a real, working system rather than a theoretical one.[2] In some design workflow models, creating a prototype (a process sometimes called materialization) is the step between the formalization and the evaluation of an idea.[3] []

The Type of Prototyping we will be concerning ourselves with in this course will be Design Prototyping.


Development Approach of Prototyping Model

Development approach for prototyping model is quick and dirty, main focus is on quick development rather than high quality prototype. Minimal documentation is done like Test Plan, Design Documents, Test Cases Documents are not prepared.

Minimum testing is done as testing consumes the major part of expenditure.

Advantages of Prototyping Model.

  1. In prototyping model requirements are frozen at a later stage by which time they are likely to be stable.
  2. Client or end users already get experience with the prototype system. It is more likely that the requirements specified after prototype will be very close to actual requirements.
  3. Reduces risks associated with the projects.
(Image source

(Image source

Disadvantages of Prototyping Model

Development cost is borne by the developer.Customer could believe the prototype as the working version.Users can begin to think that a prototype, intended to be thrown away, is actually a final system that merely needs to be finished or polished.

Excessive development time of the prototype.

Expense of implementing prototyping.  



Everyone should be aware of the environmental effect that printed media has on our world.  Our landfills are littered with once purchased packages sporting the latest groovy graphics.  It’s not just the images  that we should concern ourselves with but on what we print them as well.



(Image source

Sustainable practices for graphic designers include a wide range of issues. When creating traditional print materials the toxicity of ink and paper and the sheer quantity of paper produced need to be considered. In addition to these factors there are other phases of the life cycle of products that need to be examined. To really determine the sustainability or carbon footprint of a product, one needs to follow it through its entire life cycle. Questions need to be raised about how much fuel is being used for shipping, what the final end product is, how long the life cycle is, and how long before the product ends up as waste.

In Green Graphic Design author Brian Dougherty asks graphic designers to start at the end of the process instead of the beginning. Imagine the best possible destiny for your design and visualize the process of every phase from the final destination of your product at the end of its life cycle back to the design studio. Consider everything from the time of its ultimate disposal to its conception including transportation, warehousing, production, and manufacturing that may prevent green solutions from being implemented.

In Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things authors William McDonough and Michael Braungartmake a similar case for how sustainable practices need to be implemented. They assert that it’s not enough for us to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” They explain how products need to be designed from the outset so that after their lives they will provide nourishment for something new. McDonough and Braungart feel that when designers employ the intelligence of natural systems—the effectiveness of nutrient cycling, the abundance of the sun’s energy—they can create products and systems that allow nature and commerce to fruitfully co-exist.

One of the biggest challenges that graphic designers face is educating their clients about sustainable practices. When companies claim to be eco-friendly based on a myopic view of sustainability and without looking at all the implications of their actions, they may end up being guilty of greenwashing—the practice of “spinning” their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in the  use of resources. Sustainable practices need to be authentic. If they are not, they lose all credibility.

The following sites are good resources for practising sustainable design:

(Text source