Design concept involves converting understanding of the problem and research data into a design solution in simple steps.
UX designer, UI designer
A design concept is an idea that drives the design of a product, which is explained by sketches, images, written statements, etc. This helps designers to create a product with value and helps developers to stay on track. Basically, a design concept briefly explains your product idea and why you believe the product is worth creating.
The design concept serves as a base on which the product is built.
It gives a clear understanding of the problem, the target users, etc.
It gives a direction to proceed with designing a product.
It decreases the risk of running into dead ends during the process.
While defining or creating a design concept, keep these seven principles of design in mind:
Movement and Rhythm
1. Define the problem
To create a design concept, it’s important to know the problem. The concept should be able to explain what solution the design is offering to the users and why it will add value to their lives. Basically, try to answer the question - What will the product design do? What kind of solution will it give?
2. Identify target users
Once you get a good understanding of the problem, you should know for whom you’re solving this problem. You should be clear about whom your product is going to help and how you can tailor the user experience to serve those people.
3. Ideation & Sketching
Ideation is a very important activity that brings key members of the design together to solve the problem. Ideation is important because:
It’s quick and easy.
We can do as many solutions as possible.
Multiple iterations could be done.
Our focus is on logically solving the problem first, not creating a refined visual.
Brainstorming: Use the power of solving problems together by ideating in a group. It could be within the design team or product team or even with a group of users. This is useful when designing products, which include tech innovation and user-centricity.
Inspired Ideas: Benchmarking ideas from competitors or other similar products in parts or in aspects of design. This is useful for designing products, which are incremental upgrades or existing products or where there are a lot of overlapping features with some existing products.
Liststorming: Listing keywords that could help solve the problem and writing an idea for each of the keywords. It is useful when definite solution approaches might be used to solve a problem.
Crazy8: In a quick session ideate 8 (or more) completely different approaches for solving the problem in question. Do not judge or over-critique the ideas while doing crazy8, just put down those ideas first.
Mind Mapping: One could just brain-dump all the ideas they have for solving a problem. Following this, the ideas could be structured into logical groups with mind mapping.
Participatory Design: Ideation and designing with all stakeholders and also customers and users in some cases. This is useful for designing products for niche user segments.
Once you’ve ideas to solve the problem, pick the best idea and start sketching the solution. Sketches give a better understanding of the idea and how the idea will solve the problem.
4. Guerilla Test
Once the ideas are generated in the form of UI sketches, they need to be validated with users for directional guidance. This is done with methods like guerilla testing of sketches or low-fi prototypes.
At this stage, the solution should illustrate:
Logical flow for 1-2 critical user stories
A rough layout of key UIs
Information groups and structure on each UI of the flow
You can validate multiple solution options at this stage if required. After the validation, the solution is optimized based on the user feedback. The only probable flipside is that the interactivity of a design solution can not be tested with it.
5. Create User Flows
User flows are detailed for all user stories after the solution approach is validated.
User flows are logical flow diagrams that describe how users complete any activity in a step-by-step manner.
6. Define Navigation Schema
A navigation schema defines how information is structured and how users can go through the product to reach whatever part of the product they need to.
It is done with 2 elements:
To arrive at an intuitive Information Architecture for a product, the following research methods are useful:
Card sorting is used, if the product is being created afresh
Tree testing is used if the older version of the product or design already exists
Read this to know How to define the Navigation Schema of a product?
7. Create Low Fidelity Prototyping
After confirming that the design is working as expected or is closer to it, the design definition starts. Different aspects of design are defined from this point.
Layouts and information design for each screen are illustrated on UI design in the form of low-fidelity or lo-fi prototypes. These could be done as pen & paper sketches or done digitally.
With this form of prototyping, the solution needs to be thought out in more detail, and information architecture needs to be focused on.
So, it is best to do lo-fi prototypes with black, white, and gray box diagrams. These lo-fi versions of the design are also called wireframes. This version is meant for quick iteration.
Once this prototype is validated/agreed upon, designers can start working on refining the design.
The definition of the design system can be triggered at this point, since the required UI patterns, target user personas, user preferences, etc. all are clear by now.
To know more about wireframing, read How to do wireframing?
Brainstorming & Sketching
Wireframing & Digital Prototyping
Complete guide to paper prototyping from JustInMind
Stop Talking and Start Sketching: A Guide to Paper Prototyping from Marvel App
Guerrilla Usability Testing: How To Introduce It In Your Next UX Project from UsabiltyGeek
Guerrilla testing: what it is and when to use it from UX Collective
The Beginner’s Guide to User Flow in UX Design | 2022 from UX Planet
What Is Ideation in Design Thinking? 2023 Ideation Techniques Guide from CareerFoundry
Crazy Concept Ideation with Crazy 8s from Switch
Crazy 8's from Design Sprint
Mind Map within the walls of UI/UX from Muzli
Low-fi prototyping: What, Why, and How? From Prototypr
Card Sorting Best Practices for UX from Adobe
Prototyping vs Wireframing: What’s The Difference? From Product Manager