What is the design process?
The World Design Organisation defines it as;
Industrial Design is a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success, and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services, and experiences.
Industrial Design bridges the gap between what is and what’s possible. It is a trans-disciplinary profession that harnesses creativity to resolve problems and co-create solutions with the intent of making a product, system, service, experience or a business, better. At its heart, Industrial Design provides a more optimistic way of looking at the future by reframing problems as opportunities. It links innovation, technology, research, business, and customers to provide new value and competitive advantage across economic, social, and environmental spheres.
The Double Diamond Model
One commonly accepted model is the Double Diamond model, that breaks the iterative design process into 4 stages; Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. In the Discover and Develop stages, the process is divergent, looking at creative solutions. Define and Deliver are convergent stages, where a final solution is pulled from the pile of possibilities.
This process is repeated, where each delivered outcome is used to help redefine the question for the next iteration.
The standard process roughly involves the designer taking control of all 4 phases, and consulting the user along the way. The amount of consultation varies; from simply observing what the end user buys, to consulting the user at each stage of the process.
Digital technology enables new relationships between user, designer and data that allow for iteration and collaboration quickly, cheaply and clearly. By treating everyone in the process as a designer, the process can be democratised, and in so doing create products that better fit individuals needs.
What is the Testbatch design process?
At Testbatch, we want to democratise design innovation by helping users and designers work together on creating products people actually want, need and use. We still follow the above processes, but more collaboratively.
The core of our approach is the User Toolkit.
This is a ‘User Toolkit’.
Use the controls below to design your 3D model.
A User Toolkit is a system for creating a family of objects – it’s like an algorithm for creating stuff. The User Toolkit designer sets the boundaries and decides which parameters are available for the user to change the design with. This defines the ‘solution space’ – all possible outcomes that can be created with the toolkit.
The user manipulates the toolkit, creating their own object – in a sense, creating or finding their preferred outcome in the available solution space.
User Toolkits are not new, but they’ve never been used to their full potential.
Customising parametric models creates data that we can then use to improve the design. For example, the values you see in this small spreadsheet are the averages of the parameters for every model that a user has finished and clicked the button ‘Send Parameters to Testbatch’ in the Example model. Much deeper data analysis is possible.
Enter the values from the spreadsheet into the Example model above to see the ‘average’ Example model.
Our process grows from 3 core principles.
How does this work in practice?
Users and designers find or rediscover a problem to tackle. A User Toolkit is developed to facilitate exploration of the problem space.
User Toolkit pages have the toolkit, the phases or milestones of the project’s development, and a Group for people interested in the toolkit to discuss it and keep track of progress.
Through using the User Toolkit and having discussions around it, the toolkit can be refined to better meet the evolving definition of the problem to be tackled.
Groups allow for discussion and sharing of updates on a User Toolkit and the outcomes that can be made with it. Projects allow the development of the user toolkit to be done collaboratively, and openly.
With a clear goal defined, the community then creates or uncovers their solutions using the toolkit. The toolkit is still in flux at this stage, incorporating improvements or fixing problems as they arise.
The User Toolkit is now ready to use. The community create their individual outcomes, creating data with which to make decisions about changes for the next iteration. These outcomes can be used in a number of ways – as long as that way respects the shared and negotiated ownership of the outcome.
In most cases, the outcomes can also be sold on the Testbatch site – if they are good enough, and there is a way to manufacture them (or create instructions for their manufacture).
Then, depending on what the community wants, the process starts again.