Compendium of Design

A Body of Knowledge
Learn from those who designed before you.

Identifying the Design Need


Identify the need


Every design process begins with a design problem. It is the design problem that defines the factors of the design need and the individual product design specifications that can lead to a potential design solution.

The design need can come from several sources;

  • the designer who identifies a problem in an existing design for a client
  • a person, group, or company that contracts a designer
  • customer feedback that identifies problems in an existing product
  • a customer or marketing team who identifies gaps in the current design range or market

Independent of where the design need comes from, it is ultimately the designer's job to flesh out the design specifications. This can be done in several ways:


Interviewing the User

Interviewing the Client

By interviewing the user, the designer gains an understanding of the design need from a unique point of view. Users are the primary or firsthand source of information. It is their experiences and feelings about a product or space that the designer must respond to.


In the conversation with the user, the designer would normally want to uncover the design problem faced by the user, what the user is hoping to achieve and the design specifications the design solution would need to address.

Interviewing the Client

Products and environments may often be produced by people or companies who are responding to a market need. In these circumstances, designers will often call these groups 'clients'. By interviewing clients, the designer is able to gain an understanding of the design need from a suppliers' point of view. In this scenario, the designer will ask a different series of questions in comparison to interviewing the user.

Interviewing the user


When working with clients - particularly those who aim to provide a product or environment to users, the questions need to focus on design specifications that ensure the design solution will be competitive within the market.