Category Archives: Design Theory and Methodlogies – A Design Brief

Final Assignment – An example of a good design brief

For our course, Design Theory and Methods, I have prepared a design brief. The brief is about designing an interface and brand identity for a new service, offered through the digital medium, in the form of an app and a website.

Its important for the designer to know the holistic purpose of the design. In order to create the design brief, I asked myself the following questions assuming I was the lead designer of this project:

  1. What – What seems to be the problem What are we designing? What are the design deliverable?
  2. Why – Why are we designing this? What is the purpose of this design? Why do we think this is best proposed design solution?
  3. When – When are we doing to design this? What are the deadlines?
  4. How – How are we designing this? What is the design language? How are we going to choose the fonts, typography and colors?
  5. Who – Who is this design for? Who going to be using it? Who are the stakeholders of this project?
  6. Where – Where are we designing? On which medium will this design be used?


As European society has grown wealthier it has created more and more rubbish. Each year in the European Union alone about 3 billion tonnes of waste is thrown away – some 90 million tonnes of it hazardous. This amounts to about 6 tonnes of solid waste for every person!(1) Per capita waste generation in OECD countries has increased by 14% since 1990, and 35% since 1980. As trends show we are doubling our waste almost every couple of decades. It’s utopia to think that this lifestyle of “Use and Throw” will be sustainable for the planet. We simply don’t have the resources.

We often buy stuff that we don’t need or only need once and then throw it away. It’s absurd when we throw away perfectly functional thrown away for reasons like ‘changing apartments’ or ‘lack of space’ or ‘Out of style”. It’s evident that we live in a consumerist society. But what happens to these products after they have been bought? What happens to them after they are done with? The life cycle of a product isn’t just from manufacturing to supermarkets and then to home. Almost all products end up in landfill somewhere where the product spends far more time in comparison to other phases of the product life cycle.

Reuse before Recycle
Waste Management Pyramid. Image Source: Wikipedia

Of course a lot of products are recycled but it’s not easy to recycle products. It costs a lot of resources like transport fuel, water, energy to bring a product from it’s disposing facility to the recycling plant. There is no pride in recycling. Recycling is a result of bad design. Before we recycle, we must learn to reuse.

Can design help us mitigate mindless consumption and senseless recycling?

We need a way by which we can reduce taxing the environment by encouraging people to throw less and reuse more. The objective is to connect people in need of a particular product, let’s say a guitar, with people who want to throw away their used guitar.

The Solution: is a free market place to promote reuse (before recycle) through community exchange. This is a cross channel service that will be offered via a responsive website and apps for android and iOS.

So how does it work?

This is a free market place that runs on community exchange of products. From unwanted guitars to used chairs, everything can be given away (and taken from) with The idea is to promote people to reuse products and curb consumption and recycling. This what makes the flow of the application simple: People upload their unwanted items to get rid of them and people in need come and collect them. There are no monetary transactions happening on the website neither does this website promote that idea.

Each user can have any of the following two roles - "Taker" or "Leaver".

The "Leaver" is a person who offers a product to the marketplace users. 

The "Taker" is a person who requests the product offer from the "Leaver".
Application/Service Flow

For the Leaver:

  • User opens the app or web page.
  • User uploads picture and description of unwanted items in his/her household that the user wants to get rid of.

For the Taker:

  • User opens the app or web page.
  • User searches for an item around his vicinity.
  • User selects item and sends a request to the “Leaver”.
  • Leaver calls the user (“taker”) and explains him the conditions of pick up (or delivery).

Paper Prototype

At the moment, we are trying to focus on the three of the most important tasks for this project.

Task 1: Uploading a Product

In this task, the user (‘giver’) is trying to list his product and connect with a potential ‘takers’ of the product. This is done by ‘uploading a product’.

Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype

Step 1: The user clicks on the “upload product” button on the app or the website.

2.1 Product Screen with Add Image

Step 2: The user add images through gallery or camera.

Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype

Step 3: The user then adds product information: Item Name, Description, Category and Tags (optional). The user then adds Pick Up Information: Date (from picker) (to picker), Time (from picker) to picker), City and Additional Information (optional).

Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype
Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype

Step 4: The user then sees the success page. He can then add more products, search for products to take and look for people who to connect with who wish the product he just uploaded

Task 2 and 3: Searching for a Product and Booking it

In this task the user first searches for a product he/she needs. After browsing and filtering through products the user needs to submit a request to book product.

Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype
Step 1: The user clicks on the “Search” button/bar.

Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype

Step 2: The user enters his query, hits enter and waits for results.

Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype

Step 3: The results appear below. They can filtered by location and Category

Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype

Step 4: The user then clicks on a product and sees further details.

Testing Tasks, User Stories and Paper Prototype

Step 5: He then clicks on the Submit button to request the product. The user then sees a message asking for confirmation if the user agrees to give his contact information to the giver of the product.

Design Logic and Requirements

Based on the feedback we received from the interviews we conducted from various stakeholders of the project there have been 3 main ideas that have governed the interface design logic. The layout, colours and typography are representatives of the following core ideas:

  • 1. Interface Efficiency – One of the premier reason’s our competitors haven’t succeed with an idea similar to this is because their interface lacked efficiency. Far too many clicks and round about navigation is required to achieve simple tasks. While designing this interface we have adopted a goal, not task, oriented approach. People want it done with few clicks, and fast.
  • 2. Inclusive Design – With a growing number of people of old age and with visual disabilities it was crucial to create an interface that would allow ease of access to as many as possible. Clear navigation, heavy contrast, large fonts and clarity are all elements of the interface design logic we adopted.
  • 3. Ubiquitous Design – This service will be accessed not just from desktops. This service will be accessed from laptops, desktops, ipads, iphones, android phones and tablets. Estonia is a country that is showing early signs of an age of Ubiquitous Computing and we want to create a user interface with this future proof design thinking.


The following is my detailed list of requirements from your agency.


1. Logo – A simple text based logo with a global icon in .EPS and .png file formats with usage snapshots. rimary font and secondary fonts files with usage snapshots. The fonts need to be web friendly and we prefer .otfs or google web fonts.

2. Brand Identity Design – The Design Language needs to reflects its ideas on reduction of consumption and promotion of reuse. Icons that represent awards to Leavers and icons that represent “quick and easy” solution instead of buying for the Taker. The brand needs to design presentations, business cards, letterheads and envelopes. The fonts, colours and typography should reflect our ideas on universal accessibility and need to be in a way that includes as many users as possible. For instance: People with visual disabilities need to be able to have access to our service. This include keeping key concepts in mind like Large Fonts, Good Contrast Ratio, Flat Paper and Minimalist Approach. We want the users to think less and do more. Not just an intuitive interface; we want an intuitive service.

3. User Interface Design – A complete front-end User Interface design for the project in accordance to the paper prototype. Files to be delivered with Adobe Fireworks in accordance with the Web Developer. The user interface needs to consider a 1200px grid system. The mock ups need to be designed for Mobile (landscape and portrait) View, Tablet (landscape and portrait) View and Desktop (landscape and portrait) View.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
Logo Version 1 1st Review Version 2 (if any) Final Review Final Review
Brand Identity Version 1 1st Review Version 2 (if any) Final Review Final Version
UID Version 1 – Mobile 1st Review Version 2 – Tablet and Desktop 2nd Review Version 3 – ALL Views Feedback and Review Final Review Final Version

Thank You! / Aitäh!

UPDATE: Hi-Fidelity prototypes produced with the help of this brief.

Design Thinking For Social Innovation

Assignment 2: Critical Analysis

The article/paper I have chosen to read is Design Thinking For Social Innovation by Tim Brown and Joycelyn Watt. Following is my analysis and thoughts on this subject.

About – Changing the way we think

We live in a world with many small and large complex social, economical, political, cultural, personal and health problems. For every problem, there is a solution already present or one that needs to be discovered. The solution could be in the form of a redesign of product, services, system or environment. To find real long term (and permanent) solutions, one needs to think out of the box. Most often we do not think of a solution – just a quick cheap short term hack. The human nature is more inclined towards solving immediate short terms problems, for instance fighting predators or finding food and not trained to solve long term issues like solve global warming or the clean water crisis. Without intelligent and creative design thinking – we cannot innovate. For instance – the whole concept of recycling. A “Recycle-able” product is the output of a badly designed product. A product life cycle isn’t from the super market to home – its much long after that in landfills and waste lands. Designers know this and try to use materials that can be “recycled”. This does solve the problem of reducing landfill pressure but in order to recycle we need a lot of energy and water resources. The whole process of recycling costs the environment and its resources – it DOES NOT save anything! A well designed product is something that would be easily integrated in the environment.

In another example, something as small a badly designed pricing plan could make the entire service unavailable for many. Small mistakes and shortsightedness cannot create effective solutions for the future. With such thinking we can only create solutions tomorrow for yesterday’s problems. From products and services to government and municipal services, we have a scope to improve from the mediocre and reach the extra ordinary. To do so, we change the way we think. Here’s another example how a self propelled system with lack of long term thinking can be redesigned to cause social good:

The decisions we make while designing artifacts or experience need to be thought through with the perspective of the most important stakeholder of the product – the user!

“Time and again, initiatives falter because they are not based on the client’s or customer’s needs and have never been prototyped to solicit feedback. Even when people do go into the field, they may enter with preconceived notions of what the needs and solutions are. This flawed approach remains the norm in both the business and social sectors. Design thinking incorporates constituent or consumer insights in depth and rapid prototyping, all aimed at getting beyond the assumptions that block effective solutions. Design thinking—in-herently optimistic, constructive, and experiential—addresses the needs of the people who will consume a product or service and the infrastructure that enables it.”

Design thinking is not a process, it’s a perspective. A unique way to understand problems is through observing, logic and empathy. Design thinking is user centered and the designers of a service or product needs to empathize and understand all kinds of users that would interact with the service or product. Social innovations are a result of such thinking. To encourage more of these, we need more people to think this way. From prototyping to testing and from to collecting usage data and improving – design thinking promotes innovation as whole.

They further emphasize that the designer of a product or service should not consider the form, function or the aesthetics but also look at things like channel or distribution and how the item/service works in effect with environment around it. A holistic view of the existing system without the (proposed) solution and a planned prediction of the system with the (proposed) solution in effect needs to be considered in the design process. Social innovation results with this holistic thinking.

“The businesses we invest in require constant creativity and problem solving, so design thinking is a real success factor for serving the base of the economic pyramid.” Design thinking can lead to hundreds of ideas and, ultimately, real- world solutions that create better outcomes for organizations and the people they serve.”

In the past few decades, it’s not just corporate that have adopted this form design thinking. Non-profit Organizations with social, environmental or cultural causes have started adopted this new method of thinking. This has been a revolutionary shift in the way we are now tackling of social problems. Instead o f giving the poor man a fish, we need to teach them to fish. We live in a world where the annual product of food via agriculture is more than global demand for food – however people go hungry. It’s design thinking that tells us that we do NOT need to grow more food the feed the hungry – we need to design appropriate distribution channels!