Conceptual Design

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Conceptual Design is an early phase of the design process, in which the broad outlines of the function and form of something are articulated.

What is Conceptual design?

Conceptual Design is an early phase of the design process, in which the broad outlines of the function and form of something are articulated. It includes the design of interactions, experiences, processes and strategies.

Concept design stage in the Product design process

In an engineering product design environment, concept or conceptual design is an early stage of a product design process. Within the new product development cycle, it typically sits between the product definition and embodiment design.

The product requirement could be elaborate initially on demand-pull product developments, and the concept generation phase falls within the product design process.

But on technology-push new product development, the fuzzy front end is rather confusing as you have the technology (proven) at the start, but how that can be used to design products to sell is rather vague. Hence concept design falls at the start of with fuzzy end where you try out.

Within the fuzzy end of new product development, concept and technology development plays a crucial role in identifying the product’s range, design, etc. The concept or conceptual design stage concentrates on the chosen design within the product design phase.

Stages of Concept design

  • Clarify the problem
  • Search externally
  • Search internally.
  • Explore systematically
  • Reflection and choosing the concept
Conceptual designs

Clarify the problem

  • Understand the user and their needs
  • Define the problem statement
  • Identify the constraints
  • Breakdown the problem into sub-problems
  • Prioritise the sub-problems

Search externally

  • Literature research
  • Patent search
  • Competitive analysis
  • User interviews
  • Expert consultations
  • Industry events

Search Internally

  • Talk to peers and collegues
  • Review existing design and product documentation within your company
  • Search company knowledgebase
  • Organise and run brainstorming sessions using common brainstorming techniques

Explore systematically

  • Identify the design variables
  • Define the range of values for each design variable
  • Generate all possible combinations of design variables
  • Evaluate each combination of design variables
  • Select the most promising combinations of design variables for further exploration

Reflection and choosing the concept

  • Review your concepts
  • Rank and prioritise concepts
  • Evaluate your concepts against your criteria
  • Get feedback from others

Benefits of Conceptual design stage

  • The first advantage of conceptual design is that it clarifies what a product can do and its intended use. When developing a product, this is essential.
  • Conceptual designs aid in producing a user interface that is simple to comprehend and use.
  • To ensure that the project is better understood, it is beneficial to describe the roles of various users and their requirements thoroughly.
  • The design will assist in carefully considering the user’s points of view, making achieving the desired results easier.