Phases of the Design Process

By Matthew Schieltz ; Updated September 15, 2017

The process and stages of design vary depending on several factors, including the type of project you're working on, how big or small it is and for whom it is being completed. Phases associated with graphic design differ greatly from those associated with building and architectural design. However, each type of project includes a common thread of stages that builders, designers and artists, mechanical engineers and others go through, such as research, planning and project conceptualization phases.

Research

The design process begins with research. Almost all projects require the builders or makers to ask a series of questions--of themselves or clients--about the purpose of the project and the needs to fill. For example, architectural designers or home builders ask clients questions concerning the size of interior spaces, the types of people for whom the building is being built and any custom-tailored requests. Questions of style come into play during this phase as well. Other questions during the research phase concern a project's budget and time line for completion. The maker or client may examine similar projects that have been successfully completed.

Conceptualization

The conceptualization phase of the design process involves outlining the project. During this phase, designers may have a list of features or requirements that the project will include. They conduct brainstorming sessions to generate additional ideas. Some designers draw a rough paper-and-pencil or computer-generated sketch of what the result will look like, encompassing all project requirements and features. When conceptualizing, designers often modify the rough sketch or outline to satisfy a change in needs or preferences from clients.

Design Development

The design development phase involves a closer, detailed look at the project. This phase involves creating detailed plans, drawings and drafts and devoting attention to each feature or specification. For example, architectural designers and builders use computer-aided design programs to model a new building to scale, ensuring the design, measurement and placement of doors, stairways and hallways. Art project designers, such as graphic and logo design artists, construct several drafts or proofs. Design development allows additional feedback from clients and last-minute changes to be made and approved. During this phase, designers or builders often assess final costs for the project.

Development and Completion

The development stage involves creating and building the project itself. The designer gathers supplies to complete the project. Large designs and projects require continual involvement from all team members, including project managers, leaders and engineers, to ensure work goes according to plan. An architectural project may require on-site visits from a property owner to ensure satisfaction. Any last-minute changes or added requirements during this stage might result in additional expenses. When development is completed, the designer evaluates the project and shows the result to clients.

About the Author

Matthew Schieltz has been a freelance web writer since August 2006, and has experience writing a variety of informational articles, how-to guides, website and e-book content for organizations such as Demand Studios. Schieltz holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He plans to pursue graduate school in clinical psychology.