Design vision

From WikID

What Is a Design Vision?

Figure 1: Example of a Design Vision (from student report)

According to the description in the Dutch dictionary ‘van Dale’ vision means ‘The way in which someone judges, considers matters (or things), consideration, view, opinion’. A vision in the context of product design provides us with a personal, inspiring image of a new future situation created by a designer or a group of designers and/or other professionals. This new future situation may directly concern the new product itself (features, functions etc.), but also the domain and context within which the product will be used, the user(s), the usage (or interaction) of the user(s) with the product, the business or other aspects related to the product design.

A design vision includes:

  1. an insight into or understanding of the product-user-interaction-context system;
  2. a view on the essence of the problem: “which values are to be fulfilled?”; and
  3. a general idea or direction about the kind of solutions to be expected.

A strong, convincing vision is often well-founded by arguments based on theories and facts, and is often communicated effectively by using images, text and other presentation techniques. A design vision should be sharable and inspiring. As it is the result of the use of theories, facts and arguments, it should be an ‘objective’ interpretation.

When Can You Make a Design Vision?

An explicit vision on the product (to be designed) supports you, the designer, during your search for ideas and the final design. It provides a design direction and thus helps you steer the product design process. This process is supported by many aspects that are influenced by factors such as the opinions of clients, users, team members, producers etc. Therefore a vision (on something - to be specified) should be created in an early stage of the design process.

How to Make a Design Vision?

Starting Point

The starting point of a design vision is a personal vision on the design problem.

Expected Outcome

The expected outcome is a written statement of a design vision or design philosophy.

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Design Vision


The most important functions for the design are:

  • Transport children on water, the toy needs to float on water, the transportation function enables that children can take part in competitions and water cycle
  • Transform muscle strength into driving force; the children have to use of the driving mechanism to move the water cycle
  • Teach children something about mechanics; one of the goals of the company is to introduce children to mechanics and how the product works
  • Children should enjoy themselves; of course this has to be a result of the points listed above

Target Group

The most important target group are children ranging from 7 – 11 years. Nevertheless the product also needs to be used by youngsters and elder people. A distinctive characteristics of this group is the ability to swim thus need less guarding. Children have a lot of fantasy and have a keen interest in mechanics. The other relevant group is camping users or café users next to lakes. The intention is that these people buy the product to provide children with maximum fun. These people do not care about the product. They only want that it is stored very well during winter at minimum maintenance.

Interested Party

The remaining interested party are the parents. They want their child to have fun and at the same time be safe without their constant guard. Others concerned are other water users who should experience minimum inconvenience from the product, the water cycle.

Environment for use

The product is going to be used on lakes next to campings and other recreational areas. Lakes have no current, often little beaches with gras on them. Lakes often have little cafes or toilet spots which could serve as storage space for the product.

Relation with other products

The product will have to compete with other water game activities. Other products can be water cycles, beach balls but also bigger beach balls or rubber boats. The unique quality of this product is that it embodies all of these functions including the fantasy aspect of the target group.

Distinguishing aspects

The product needs to command attention in between all other activities in such a lake. It has to come across as very safe. The product needs to be produced as environmentally friendly as possible and should resist long term influences of sand, water and sunlight.


Possible Procedure

A design vision usually does not ‘come out of thin air’ but is a result of thorough analyses, creative thoughts and personal experiences in design, as well as experience of life in general. The elective course ViP of the master courses provides a specific approach for it (see also ViP). In Delft, vision development approaches are also incorporated in the Bachelor courses ‘Fuzzy Front End’ and Strategic Product Innovation.


Tips and Concerns

  • Since beginning Bachelor students do not have much experience in design, some design researchers and tutors have stated that we cannot expect strong design visions from beginners and therefore not ask them to create a vision in the early Bachelor years. This can be contradicted by the argument that young people do have opinions and by not supporting them in their development we miss a chance to link general design knowledge and skills to the personal motivation of people. Besides, people learn more effectively if there is a link between their external and their internal world (the person’s own ideas and thoughts).
  • Since there are so many aspects involved in the creation of a vision, it should be clear in advance on what the designer gives his or her vision.
  • A design vision can have the form of a written story, but visualisations are used as well to express a design vision.

References and Further Reading

  • Hekkert, P. and van Dijk, M. (2003) ‘Designing from context: Foundations and Applications of the ViP approach’, In: Lloyd, P. and Christiaans, H. (eds.), Designing in Context: Proceedings of Design Thinking Research Symposium 5. Delft: DUP Science.
  • Hekkert, P., van Dijk, M. and Lloyd, P. (2011) Vision in Product Design: Handbook for Innovators, BIS publishers, in press.

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