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Concept Design Tools : Comments

By Victor Lombardi

September 30, 2008


Tor Løvskogen Bollingmo

October 1, 2008 9:24 AM

A great read! I might just get those books :)


October 1, 2008 10:56 AM

Basically a fallback to the fundamentals of “design thinking” as a discipline. You’ve described the artifacts of discovery.

What “design thinking” may appear to inherently lack (but is open to accommodate) are the various ‘methods’ that can be laid on top of discovery…most of which come from innovation: 6 thinking hats, 7 levels of change, and others wonderfully outlined at this MindTools site:

Thus the focus on the ‘thinking’ part of “Design Thinking”.

James Riordon

October 2, 2008 6:25 AM

Love your article. Only one little niggle was is the title of Bill Buxton’s book is ‘Sketching User Experiences’ and not ‘Sketching User Interfaces’.

Victor Lombardi

October 3, 2008 10:17 AM

@Tor — thank you!

@Rotkapchen — since I know you, I can safely safe you have significant knowledge of design as a process and a way of thinking. I agree this work is fundamental to the design discipline, but many digital designers don’t have formal design educations and lack this experience.

I disagree that this is an artifact of discovery. These are methods for design. John Chris Jones, author of the seminal 1970 book ‘Design Methods’ even laments that design methods have become absorbed into design research (, but where that discovery work is focused on observing and analyzing the current situation, concept design and other design methods are generative: they create preferred situations, situations that did not exist before.

@James — I’m glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for the heads up. The error has been corrected.


October 5, 2008 12:43 PM

Hi, Got me thinking about whether it’s a case of designing something that’s for the niche market: early iPods, which really only sold to full music geeks, or design to make products so coool that people want one even although they don’t need them: iPods (for the majority of people who own them these days). Do people buy for the design or whether the product is actually needed. My opinion is that if you can make something so avant guard with at least some purpose, people just need to have it. A mixture of market research and conceptual design.

Alexander Osterwalder

October 6, 2008 3:26 AM

Wonderful article. Helped me expand my own thinking around applying design thinking to business strategy – which is also conceptual design…


October 6, 2008 9:02 AM

Two things came to my mind while reading this article.
Firstly, comparison with a complex physical product is probably mis-leading: once a prototype is signed off, tooling up for production is typically far more expensive than the design process, making multiple prototypes relatively cheap.
In software, a perfect prototype is the final product, and therefore building even two prototypes is going to be very expensive.

Secondly, I have to take exception to your reference to using Flash on the web. I have yet to meet any interface that could not be created in HTML / CSS / JavaScript if the developer was talented enough. The loss of accessibility and useability is never worth what little speed of development that is bought with Flash.

Victor Lombardi

October 6, 2008 9:39 AM

@Mike — thanks for commenting, these are interesting points.

Regarding Flash, I’m not advocating for any particular development approach, I’m simply saying that explicitly asking “What else could we do?” might lead to new options.

I should clarify that concepts are not prototypes. While you could express a concept in a working form, it’s not necessary. The concept could be expressed as an image of an interface, an animation of an interface, a storyboard, a video scenario, and so on. How we express a concept has a factor of cost, but prototype economics shouldn’t come into play in concept design.


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