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Unit 2
The Design Process

Deconstruct/Reconstruct Project

1. Introduction

Understanding how the design process works and how methods help a designer to design is fundamental to improve one’s practice, given that the same methods are replicable and adaptable to different situations. In Unit 2, you will be exposed to the Design Thinking methodology in its different stages as you progress in your project. It will then be essential for you to apply such methods in further projects.

2. Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

> Understand how the design process works

> Apply the Design Thinking methodology

Understand how to define problems

> Understand why the user is essential

> Explore how to sketch and develop ideas

> Explore how to prototype and test your work

> Explore how to exhibit your work


Lesson 1
Empathise with people

Lesson 1

1. The Design Process

Designing means to put in place a very specific professional methodology and skill-set. Understanding the methodology and its methods when doing a project allows you to design consciously through defined steps. Look what the International Council of Design says about it. Then, look at the diagram that I suggested for BACA and the one shared by the UAL. Think about the way you followed (or not) these steps in the last project you did.

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The Design Process at FADM BACA ©Thomas Verbal

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The process shared by the UAL in their portfolio sessions


​The Design Thinking process


Share your thoughts on the following questions.

> Why is research important in developing ideas?

> What makes sense to you and what doesn't? Why?

2. Collecting data: Surveys

Thinking about the user is essential in the design process as these are the people who will interact with your work, whether it is a graphic campaign, a product, an installation, a game, an app. You design for people, whether these are specific individuals or target groups. Surveys and interviews are useful research methods to collect data from people. Do you understand the difference between both?

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Surveys need to be short, on a single theme and present a set of clear and simple questions. Surveys can be done online or on paper questionnaires, with questions that can be closed-ended (providing predefined response options) or open-ended (allowing respondents to provide their own answers).

​Examples from students’ projects

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Example of survey made by teacher for his students (2023)


Plan a survey.

> What do you want to know from those you ask questions to?

> Write at least 10 questions that you would like to ask

Start with a demographic question, then closed and open-ended questions.


Lesson 2
Define problem
and user

Lesson 2

1. Diverge and Converge

When doing your research you need to stay open as you discover a variety of information from primary and secondary sources. Once you have enough data, you can start to define the problem through a statement.


​The Design Thinking process

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The Double Diamond Design Process


Look back at the research done so far.

> Write 3 problem statements with the following format: <what you have researched on> <what problems you have found> (e.g. I have researched on women rights and I have found that women’s period is still a taboo that young people avoid talking about)

> Ask yourself WHs questions to formulate further research questions.

2. User PERSONA method

As a student – and even as a professional – you may not always have access to real users. The method User PERSONA allows you to create the profile of a typical user of your project to help you understand their needs, experiences, behaviours and goals. It also helps you to define the problem that the user may find. 

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Share your thoughts on the following question.

> What are the differences and similarities between these two users?

> What could the designer be designing for them?

Who are you designing for?

Imagine a user that will use or see your current work. Apply the PERSONA method by imagining this typical user by creating her/his identity. Give that user a name, a face, personal information, likes and dislikes. Fill in the following document

3. Visual maps

Remember to visualise your research. If you do a moodboard, you collect images, photographs and materials that express feelings and concepts related to your theme. There are no words. On the other side, a mind-map helps to visualise your research and ideas by classifying them in different groups and categories with images and words.


Prepare a VISUAL Pitch presentation of 4-5 PPT slides by the end of the week in which you define the problem you want to continue working on. Be ready to give and receive constructive feedback on the feedback sheet below.

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Lesson 3
Ideate through sketching

Lesson 3

1. Brainstorming

Ideation involves generating and exploring multiple ideas before settling on a final design. Brainstorming is a group activity in which participants try to find ideas to solve a problem, freely and creatively by asking each other questions. To brainstorm, we need (1) to ask good questions (2) a quantity of answers over quality (3) to list the ideas (4) to welcome wild ideas and finally, (5) to analyse and classify them. 

Images from Graphic Design Thinking, Ellen Lupton (2011)

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With the group, choose one of the following problem(s):

(1) The toilets icons at BACA are too conservative. 

(2) BACA’s logo is not appropriate for what it represents.

(3) Design a protest slogan related to the research done so far in this project.

> Let’s brainstorm together for 10 minutes by using the WH questions (What, Why, Who, Where, When, How). Then, brainstorm alone for 10 more minutes to write down different slogans related to your research.

2. Sketching

Sketching is a valuable tool for visualizing ideas and making them more concrete. Sketches don’t need to be detailed; they should capture the essence of the idea and be done quickly and in good quantity. Sketching is not only useful to think but also to communicate your ideas to others and receive feedback based on what you show.

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BUGFOOD by Zunk: This student was designing a brand where beverages and food are made of bugs.


Take a new sketchbook page.

> Choose one of the ideas generated during the brainstorming session and make at least 10 small drawings of that idea in the next 10 minutes.

> Share your sketches with your pair and briefly explain the concept behind them.


Lesson 4
Prototype and Design


In the project Carpet of Memories, students usually conduct an interview to a family member. If you had to interview someone from your family to tell you stories and anecodtes about your family’s past, about an item that they have kept because of family memories, Who would you interview? Why?

Share your thoughts here and in your sketchbook. Write at least 100 words.

Lesson 4

1. Quick, easy-to-make and cheap Prototypes

Prototypes are models of your ideas, that can be shown in many different formats. The purpose is to make something which can be created quickly, allow you to fail without costing much money, and be tested in some way. Prototypes are not your final outcome but simulations of it. They can be storyboards, floor plans, APP wireframes, technical drawings, paper models, foamboard models, service blueprints, PS mock ups, etc.

Examples of low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes: Fidelity refers to the level of detail and functionality you include in your prototype.

2. Build to think and test to learn

Follow this advice from Hasso Plattner:

> Start building, even if you aren’t sure what you’re doing.

> Don’t spend too long on one prototype.

> Identify what’s being tested with each prototype. A prototype should answer a particular question when tested.

> Build with the user in mind. What do you hope to test with the user? What sorts of behaviour do you expect?


Examples of prototypes made with paper, glue, a cutter and foamboard


Sketches, four prototypes and the final outcome: On the top left, you have the first sketches of this photo-book made on a napkin, then four prototypes made at home with paper, my printer and some cardboard, just to see the size, the materials, the order of pages and the overall style, etc. On the bottom right, you can see the outcome printed in a print shop.


Define your idea and plan a prototype to make it visible

> Based on your most recent ideas, fill in the following document to make a prototype that will take you half a day or one full day. It should clearly communicate your ideas, getting us closer to your possible outcome(s).

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Lesson 5
Test and evaluate


In the project Carpet of Memories, students usually conduct an interview to a family member. If you had to interview someone from your family to tell you stories and anecodtes about your family’s past, about an item that they have kept because of family memories, Who would you interview? Why?

Share your thoughts here and in your sketchbook. Write at least 100 words.

Lesson 5

1. Test your prototypes

We need to test our solutions to see if they answer the problem. Users’ feedback can help us to see what is right and wrong with our designs and later help to improve them. Your findings will allow you to empathize and gain a better understanding of the users, turning you back to the beginning of the Design Thinking process, proving how iterative it can be.

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Test is the final stage of the Standford Design School’s Design Thinking process

2. Evaluation and Review: 5 guidelines for conducting a test

1. Show, don’t tell: let your users experience the prototype

2. Ask participants to talk out loud through their experience: What they think, what they see, what they feel

3. Observe your participants

4. Ask follow-up questions: What do you mean when you say ___?, How did that make you feel?, What did you expect would happen? and, most importantly, Why?

5. Negative feedback is your way to learn and improve

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The first test is never perfect: Modify your work and test again.

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The student asked others to review his designs and compare results so he could choose the best option.


Take a moment to plan a test session of your work for 3 classmates

> What will you show them?

> What questions could you ask them?

> How will they answer them? (post-its...)

3. Desirable, feasible and viable

The end goal of every design thinking project is a solution that is desirable, feasible and viable. As a design student, you need to think if your work is desirable, being visually appealing to users, then feasible technically, being made real and refined given the amount of time left and your own budget, and finally viable in real life, whether your design solution could actually be used by a real company.

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© Teo Yu Siang and the Interaction Design Foundation


Share your thoughts on the following questions.

> Is your prototype desirable, feasible and viable?

> What are its limitations? How to improve it?

Lesson 6

Lesson 6
Exhibit your outcome

1. Exhibition references

As you need to exhibit your outcome in a professional way, you need to research on exhibition displays that could inspire you for your own exhibition. Look at this PPT presentation with examples from previous years at BACA.


Share your thoughts on the following question.

> What methods could you use for your own exhibition?

2. Exhibition planning

You first need to think whether you show 2D or 3D elements. Then, you need to ask yourself relevant questions regarding how you show these works: Are you going to display anything on a table or plinth? Are you going to stick anything on a wall? Are you going to hang anything from the ceiling? Are you going to need a screen?



Plan your exhibition by answering the questions of the following document.

> Draw how your exhibition will look like in ONE or TWO sketches.

> What materials/space do you need?

> What materials will you need to buy?

3. Project statement

Often, when you go to an exhibition, you will see labels on the side of the artwork. When you do an exhibition, we want you to write a title for your project and make sure to let people see it on a label. A title, your name and a short 50-80 words statement about what your project is about can help to orientate the viewers.

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Fill in the following document.

> Write the title of your project

> Write your Chinese and English name

> What materials will you need to buy?

> Name your pathway: Graphic Design

> Write a 50-80 words statement

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