Chapter 2. Design Process

2.7 Summary

Alex Hass

Communication design can be described as a problem-solving process that can be broken into four steps: (1) define, (2) research, (3) develop concepts, and (4) implement solutions. Research should be a part of all design process determined by the scope and budget of the project. Concept mapping is a non-linear approach that outlines what is known, what is needs, creates associations and themes, and helps generate ideas. Good design takes time that involves generating and assessing concepts. Time is also spent editing, revising, refining , and evaluating ideas.

In conclusion, defining the design process is complicated as it has many stages and involves many steps at each stage. Complicating it further is the reality that every project is unique in its parameters, goals, time period, and  participants. This chapter is meant to facilitate the beginning of how you define your individual design process by basing it on general guidelines. If you are still developing an understanding of your personal design strengths and weaknesses, allow extra time for each stage and track your time for each stage. You’ll soon discover if you fall into the category of a brainstorming, conceptual, or project development type. Conceptual designers find it easy to develop multiple concepts, but less easy to take the steps to develop them to their full potential. Project development types are the opposite — finding concepts hard to create, but developing projects quite easy. Allow extra time to discover which category you fall into and also to develop strengths in your weaker area. As you gain experience developing design projects, you will start to personalize your design process and be able to estimate how long it takes with a fair degree of accuracy. This will help you to estimate project design costs more accurately and gauge the steps needed to bring a project to a successful conclusion.

Questions to consider after completing this chapter:

  1. How does communication design work within the constraints of print and media?
  2. How does the creative process relate to strategic problem solving?
  3. How is the creative process related to the design process?
  4. What are the critical phases of the design process?
  5. How does project research help to define a communication problem?
  6. What are some examples of brainstorming techniques that generate multiple concepts based on a common message?
  7. How does using a metaphoric device generate concepts?
  8. How do concepts translate into messages within a visual form?


Clare, R. (2006). Competitor analysis – A graphic design perspective. Ezine Articles. Retrieved from—A-Graphic-Design-Perspective&id=306043

Frey, C. (2008). How to generate breakthrough ideas using a concept tree. Retrieved from

Gianatasio, D. (2013, July 2). Happy 25th birthday to Nike’s ‘Just Do It,’ the last great advertising slogan. Adweek. Retrieved from

Grossnickle, T., Feldmann, D., White, A., & Parkevich, N. (2010). Millennial donors: A study of millennial giving and engagement habits. Achieve and Johnson Grossnickle Associates. Retrieved from

Harris, R. A. (2013). A handbook of rhetorical devices. VirtualSalt. Retrieved from

Tanyel, F., Stuart, E. W., & Griffin, J. (2013). Have “Millennials” embraced digital advertising as they have embraced digital media? Journal of Promotion Management, 19(5), 652–673.

Suggested Reading

Dubberly Design Office. (2009, March 20). A model of the creative process. Retrieved from


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Graphic Design and Print Production Fundamentals Copyright © 2015 by Alex Hass is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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