How to design better – Design strategies and tactics

The design strategy is a methodology that enables one to identify the unmet needs of a typical user and in developing innovative designs for the same need.

It identifies these needs as a design challenge and defines why the particular ‘NEED’ has to be addressed and how it will prove beneficial to the organization. Apart from providing innovative solutions, it encourages out of the box thinking throughout the design process.


According to the challenge, the solution can be anything that affects a common user, from a payment system for rural communities, an app for ordering food in the city, or an airline’s check-in and boarding process.

These strategies imbibe the 4 Ds in every single process:

Discover: Framing the problem, defining the goals, doing the research (desk research and ethnographic research).

Define: Making sense of all the findings and possibilities identified in the Discover phase.

Develop: Creating solutions and ensuring that they are prototyped, refined and tested.

Deliver: After iterating all the feedbacks, the resulting products or services are finalized and launched.

How to encourage design strategy in a design based organization?

Innovation is possible only if the general norms for designing are disrupted and new methodologies are tried and tested. And it is just not about the design, it is also about keeping your designers in the right frame of mind to get the best out of them. Here are a few basic guidelines to be followed that will assist you in implementing design strategies in your design process.

  1. Observe: This phase is dominated by “need finding,” a process by which designers go out and observe users participating in activities that inform the area in which you are designing. This can include just observing, or interviews.
  2. Understand: Analysis of the data collected through observation, attempting to understand the user’s deeper motivations, feelings, and values.
  3. Define: Define a point of view (POV) on the problem, that directs your understanding of what you are trying to design.
  4. Ideate: This generally consists of a variety of brainstorming techniques to come up with new ideas.
  5. Prototype: Build out ideas in a physical form.
  6. Test: Bring your prototypes to users to get feedback to revise and adjust your prototypes.

A more streamlined version of the above-mentioned process guideline will be:

  1. Defer Judgement: This is the grand poo-bah of brainstorming rules in a design thinker’s mind
  2. Quantity over quality: Hand in hand, rather than try to come up with the BEST idea, just go for whatever comes to your mind.
  3. Encourage wild ideas: Write down everything, even the wacky ideas that would never work (you never know what would spur someone else).
  4. One conversation at a time: Don’t talk over each other, read out your ideas, and listen to what others are saying.
  5. Build on the ideas of others: Intake ideas and keep the useful ones.
  6. Warm-up: start with a small exercise to get people’s minds working.
  7. Visualize it. Don’t write it, draw it. (see above in the “be visual” value)
  8. Provide focus: this is where the POV (point of view) becomes useful – by focusing your brainstorm to come up with good ideas.

Thus, a systematic approach to any process gives it a new life. Design Strategy enables the same with your design process. It helps you innovate and yet follows all the basic requirements. It enables out of the box thinking keeping in mind the feasibility of a project. A well-defined strategy coupled with the design thinking approach can do wonders for any existing or new design.

The article was contributed by GoodWorkLabs.

For more articles on similar lines, please visit – Blog – Design4India 

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