Research and Concepts


The primary goal of design students is to develop awareness of visual relationships. Through learning the language of design and understanding design principles, students will develop the ability to draw from current design trends to communicate information visually to a specific audience.

Becoming a good Graphic Designer requires an intense intrigue for understanding the impact of visual language. To understand this language best, it is important for designers to spend time expanding their visual libraries. A designer must not limit themselves to one genre of anything—they must be able to see design in all aspect of life and to constantly be compiling visual information. This will broaden the depth of a designers audience and increase their visual vocabulary.

When a designer is given a project, the first thing they must do is research their audience. They need to understand who they are communicating to, where they are communicating, and what is the best mode to communicate in said environment to this specific audience?

Research should include both primary and secondary sources of information. Primary information is that which does not already exist, but is created by the designer based off individual ideas. This information can be done through photographing, drawing, or interviewing people. Secondary information is that information or material that already exists. An example being design work, color swatches, written texts or illustrations.

Using this research, a designer can now being to compile their data. There are two ways to approach a design brief: linear reasoning and lateral thinking. Linear reasoning is more formulated and usually derives from a clear vision of the final product. It is more of a step by step process using logic. Lateral thinking is more indirect and free-flowing. It is a process of exploring possibilities and thinking “outside the box.”

Exploratory drawing is a tool used by designers during this initial stage of development. This is an extremely important part of the concept development because it allows the designer to give form to abstract thought. It is the beginning stages of making a visual language for an idea. These drawings can be done by hand or on the computer, but during this process the designer should explore different kinds of media they have access too. This is integral to developing a concept because it allows you to work through any problems and quickly revise and edit a concept.

As a designer works through this process, time is of the essence. While someone may be an incredible graphic designer, and produce amazing work, if it is not delivered on time, none of that matters. To be a great designer you must also schedule, organize and plan your time wisely. Breaking down tasks and managing your workload will help the project flow and not force you to quickly produce results at the last minute.

Article I:

This website shows partial notebooks of some of the worlds most renowned designers. Taking a look into these notebooks you can see the design process at work. These designers, scientists, and architects have collected visual information, are using exploratory drawings, and engaging in different ways of research. While some use linear reasoning, others take a more lateral thinking approach. Nevertheless, all of the notebooks contain sketches, notes, revisions and collections of secondary research material.

These professionals use this space to flush out their ideas and put whatever comes to mind on paper. Although a lot of the material will probably never be used in publication, going through the process of brainstorming and the practice of putting images to thought is what has made these designers so great. They are constantly at work and practicing their craft through absorbing information and cataloging their thoughts through text and image in these notebooks.

 Article II:

This website outlines and very formal process of design development. According to the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, the design process should progress as follows:

Analyze the situation

Write a brief

Research the problem

Write a specification

Work out possible solutions

Select a preferred solution

Prepare working drawings and plan ahead

Construct a prototype

Test and evaluate the design

Write a report



This notebook shows the different kinds of research techniques a designer uses when compiling information for a project. Some of the information is primary, the sketches and hand written notes, while other information is secondary, the pasted images pulled from other sources.


This notebook is an example of a designer who has used linear reasoning to develop a product/visual concept. They have gathered information and systematically compiled their data to outline a development process they can follow to reach an end result.


This architect is using exploratory drawing to flush out their ideas and work through any structural problems they may encounter while building their piece. You can see how the designer has used multiple sketches and several viewpoints, as well as written information, to work through their design concept.


The most common way to begin building a design concept is lateral thinking. Lateral thinking denotes the initial stages of an idea and is the process of a designer putting into visual language several abstract thoughts. The images formed from the designers thoughts may not seem related to one another, but they help a designer create a more well-rounded design by being able to draw on any of them later on in the concept building process.


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