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Design process and research books

Page history last edited by Haakon Faste 10 years, 5 months ago



Can anyone recommend some books that give a good overview of design process and/or design research techniques?


Looking to provide some recommendations to our students.  Most of the readings we've given to them so far are collections of papers, articles, chapters from various sources--nothing comprehensive in one volume.




Kim Hoffmann

Associate Director, MS-Engineering Design and Innovation

Northwestern University

Stanford PD '02





Here's Rolf Faste's Overview of Creative Strategies:






Have a look at Brenda Laurel, ed., Design Research:  Methods and Perspectives (MIT 2003).  I'll be interested in knowling whether this is what you are looking for, or what other suggestions you get.



The all time best "overall design process" book for those who like a 
user-centered focus is Henry Dreyfuss' Designing for People.
A good contemporary book is Bill Moggridge's Designing 
Interactions--it's full of good "cases" and different perspectives and 
has a lot of history.


I would look at Design Research Now. http://www.amazon.com/Design-Research-Now-Selected-International/dp/3764384719

It's not really an 'overview' book, but has some good essays and
examples of design research (it makes a distinction between
design-oriented research and research-oriented design).

I heartily recommend Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.  Daniel Lee recommended this book to me in a discussion we were having about "the best book about design."  I have to agree with him.
Not only does it dissect stoyboarding and the expression/prototyping of experiences.  It has a meta-message about prototyping resolution--a smiley face could be anyone, Charlie Brown can be a large subset of anyone but Mary Worth is a smaller subset of everyone, and a photograph of you is only you.  By using ambiguity as a tool, you can encourage creative misinterpretation and product evolution.




I have a couple of suggestions, don't know if they are what you are looking for. I've used the Ulrich and Eppinger book in my engineering design classes and found it quite useful:


Cross, N., H. Christiaans, and K. Dorst, eds. Analysing Design Activity. First ed. 1996, John Wiley & Sons: West Sussex, England.


Otto, Kevin and  Wood, Kristin. "Product Design". 2000, Prentice-Hall


Pahl, G. and W. Beitz, "Engineering Design - A Systematic Approach". 1996, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer-Verlag.


Ulrich, K.T. and S.D. Eppinger, "Product Design and Development". 2007, New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. (4th ed)




 I looked through my shelf and couldn’t really find any book that I would really recommend for a good overview of the design process which is a little surprising.  


A couple of books that were the most comprehensive are


Design Methods (Architecture) (Paperback) by John Chris Jones which is more architecturally based and expensive.

Effective Product Design and Development: How to Cut Lead Time and Increase Customer Satisfaction by Stephen R. Rosenthal which feels more for corporations and may be out of print.




I wrote and drew up a product design "graphic novel" about the design process about 5 years ago now.  I noticed that there was a lack of resources regarding the design process in an approachable medium, especially for students new to the field.  It focuses also on working in teams- it's a light read, and about 11 MB.









I like "Making Meaning" by Darrel Rhea as a nice design methodology book with a business bent. (a little different from the pure design process books you might find coming out of IDEO or Stanford.) If you or your students read it, please tell me what you think!



Stacy Sanders
M.S. Joint Program in Design, Stanford University '07

Business Innovation Consultant at Cheskin




I just thought of a book might fit this category: Designerly Ways of Knowing by Nigel Cross. The Universal Traveler by Don Koberg also comes to mind.

Comments (1)

Joe Mellin said

at 9:16 am on Aug 6, 2012

Here are some more titles on Needfinding

IDEO created a human centered design toolkit available for free at www.hcdtoolkit.org
Universal Methods of Design

The classic is Rolf Faste's Perceiving Needs: http://www.haakonfaste.com/fastefoundation/publications/perceiving_needs.pdf

Dev Patniak's book Wired to Care is actually also a needfinding book (in disguise).

"Learning from Strangers" by Robert Weiss

"Being there: Developing understanding through participant observation" in Becoming Qualitative Researchers by Peshkin

“Needfinding: The Why and How of Uncovering People's Needs,” Design Management Journal, 1999. Patnaik, Dev and Robert Becker,

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