The Design Brief: communicating the problem and the proposed solution

UX Design Series
Part 4

Documenting the problem you’re solving in a design brief is a key step in the user-centered design process. By agreeing to an initial design approach, you can focus strategically and make sure the whole team is moving in the right direction.

Define the problem to help show the potential return on investment

As we’ve emphasized before, it’s important to define the problem without forcing it to fit a proposed solution.

Sometimes the problem that is presented at the beginning of a project turns out to have deeper causes. The true problem that needs to be solved often reveals itself when we observe users.

The earlier in the process that we can identify the true problem, the better. However, it can take some initial prototyping and testing to reveal what users are actually doing and what they need.

With a clear definition of the problem, we can investigate the potential return on investment for the project. Who has this problem? What are they currently doing to try to solve it?

Prepare a design brief for all team members and stakeholders

The problem that you’re solving serves as a guideline. With the problem as the focus, we can prioritize features and consider available resources to develop the initial product or service.

A great definition of your problem statement will guide you and your team’s work and kick start the ideation process in the right direction.

Interaction Design Foundation

To communicate the problem and the initial product development plan, we prepare a design brief. If you consider a picture of the information we collect, the discovery phase is huge – we want as much information about users, desired features, and constraints as possible. In the design brief, we focus on a problem and organize the information we gathered earlier to help us define the problem. The design brief kicks off the development phase.

How collaboration plays in to user-centered design

All team members and stakeholders should contribute to, understand, and agree to use the design brief moving forward. With this agreed-upon design brief, the whole team moves in the right direction.

The design brief is just one of many tools we use in our collaborative, user-centered approach to product design. All stakeholders and teams are involved early in the process with ongoing communication.

Learn more about our UX design expertise.

Get answers to 7 frequently asked questions about UX Design

Demystify the design process.

About the author

Maude Leclerc-De Guire is a UX designer who is passionate about finding creative solutions that help people with their daily lives. As an experienced member of the NOVO design team, Maude champions the user throughout the product development process.

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