Design Project 1 | Project Brief
Design Project 1 | Project Brief

Design Project 1 | Project Brief


In this project, you’ll design a PRODUCT that supports or promotes sustainable behaviors and practices for INDIVIDUALS in day-to-day use.

For this first design project, focus your thinking on:

  • a PRODUCT --  something physical that can be manufactured, distributed, purchased, and potentially held in your hand or carried with you.

Design Team

  • For this first design project, you will be working solo — on your own.
  • In future projects, you’ll be working as part of a small design team.

Design Thinking Steps

For this project, you’ll focus on these steps of the design thinking process:

  • empathizing - interviewing and observing potential users to understand their needs
  • defining -- identifying several potential problem / opportunity spaces and developing point of view statements for each space
  • ideating - brainstorming and generating potential solutions for your selected point of view and minimal viable product definition
  • prototyping -- creating your first, very rough prototypes of the essential product features to explore and illustrate the user experience and functionality of your proposed design
  • testing - observing as other students test your design prototypes, then iterating and refining your design ideas
  • sharing -- by presenting your prototypes, design thinking steps, and your evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of your proposed design

Sharing Your Proposed Design

You will share your proposed design ideas with classmates and reviewers at the beginning of the fourth week of the quarter.  We’ll all be evaluating your proposed designs based on these criteria:

  • creativity / originality of concept -- Is this a new or exceptionally creative idea or approach?
  • practicality / feasibility -- Can the product be manufactured? Is it feasible?
  • impact -- Does the product have a measurable impact on sustainability or resilience?
  • presentation -- Is the presentation of the proposed design clear, complete, and compelling?

Workflow / Steps in the Process

Here’s a high level overview of the steps that we’ll be following over the next few weeks…

  • Identify Your Initial Area of Focus
    • What aspect of sustainability would you like to focus on for this first project?
  • Observe others, interview them, and try to understand the challenges and opportunities to improve their sustainable behaviors in their day-to-day activities in the area you’ve chosen.
  • Meet with your studio colleagues to compare notes about what you’ve found and discuss common themes that you’ve observed or noted in interviewing others about their needs.
  • Create 3 different Composite Character Profiles that capture the essential characteristics of specific subsets of the people that you’ve observed or interviewed -- especially the characteristics that help you define and understand their specific needs.
  • Use your Composite Character Profiles to define 2 to 3 potential Point of View (POV) statements for each character - reframing a design challenge into an actionable problem statement that will launch you into generative ideation.
    • Your POV statements should have the form:
    • [USER] needs to [USER’S NEED] because [SURPRISING INSIGHT]

  • Define your Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
    • “A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the smallest thing you can build that delivers customer value (and as a bonus captures some of that value back)”.
    • This article provides several good tips for identifying your MVP.
  • Ideate about potential ways to meet the needs identified
  • Brainstorm about potential solution alternatives:
    • Thinking broadly to uncover alternative approaches to address the needs identified in your POV statements.
    • Grouping and focusing to synergize the most promise ideas.
  • Plan the essential features of a first functional prototype that will help you get feedback to improve and enhance your product idea.
    • Focus on prototyping the user interaction and the essential functionality of your product.
    • Your prototypes don’t have to be super fancy or high tech as long as you can mock up the essential functionality in a way that allows other to test your design.
    • Be mindful of what you will be testing with this prototype.
  • Develop your prototype based on your testing plan.
    • Does your prototype give you the opportunity to test the features that you’d like feedback on?
    • Can you find a way to test alternatives -- what works better -- versus a single approach -- yes or no.
    • Plan the essential features of a first functional prototype that will help you get feedback to improve and enhance your product idea.
  • Develop a testing plan.
    • Sometimes features that are obvious for the designer are not so obvious to users. Decide what you will be testing for -- what feedback will be most helpful:
      • User experience
      • Feature discoverability
      • Effectiveness
    • Plan your testing to provide feedback on how to improve your design as you see how people use and interact with the prototype.
    • Outline your testing protocol:
      • Who will do what?
      • What will users see?
      • What will you ask?
  • Test your first prototypes using your testing protocol.
  • Plan your presentation for sharing your design journey
    • You’ll want to share your use of the Design Thinking process:
      • your initial empathizing
      • your definition of the needs, POV, and MVP
      • the ideas you considered
      • your prototype and the testing results
    • You’ll also want to put your product idea in context:
      • Competitive Analysis
        • Who are the competitors and their current technologies?
        • What are the advantages of your product / approach?
      • Impact -- what’s the potential impact if your product is adopted?
      • Feasibility
        • Can this be done?
        • What are the challenges?
  • Share your proposed design
    • It’s your chance to share your inspired ideas with others!
    • Your presentation will include:
      • A recorded 60 second “Elevator Pitch” or “commercial” or “movie trailer” in which you quickly present your proposed design for the evaluators.
      • A web page including:
        • A one page Executive Summary of proposed design
        • Links to your latest, greatest prototype
        • A presentation on sharing your design journey and how you used the design thinking process (a template will be provided)