Towards a Designer-Centred Methodology: Descriptive Considerations and Prescriptive Reflections

  • P. Badke-Schaub
  • J. Daalhuizen
  • N. Roozenburg


Design methodology aims to provide structure that supports designers dealing with complex and complicated problems in varying projects, contexts and environments. For decades, the technique for transferring methods into practice has been discussed, mainly in reference to the limited use of methods in practice. This paper addresses three issues: past, present, and future. ‘What is methodology good for?’ is asked in reference to the past and provides a brief overview of arguments from recent decades that question the benefits of design methodology. The second part elaborates on the claim that designers should be the source of information about their use of design methods. To support the plea for a designer-centred methodology, results are presented of an interview study that aimed to find out what kind of situations the users of design methods - the designers - experience as non-routine situations and how they cope with these kinds of situations. It is assumed that this information helps to determine when designers need what kind of support. Finally, the third section discusses the extent to which the new design thinking movement as a business strategy will influence the development of design methodology in the future, and closes with a summary of the implications of future trends for design methodology. The emphasis throughout is a plea for substantial methodological support in an individually personalised and situation–oriented manner to meet the demands of the user, and thus increase design performance.


Design Process Design Methodology Harvard Business School Design Thinking Team Climate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander C (1971) The state of the art in design methods: interview with C. Alexander. DMG newsletter:3–7Google Scholar
  2. Araujo C (2001) Acquisition of product development tools in industry: a theoretical contribution. Thesis technical university of Denmark, LyngbyGoogle Scholar
  3. Badke-Schaub P and Frankenberger E (1999) Analysis of Design Practice. Design Studies, 1999, 20(5):465–480Google Scholar
  4. Badke-Schaub P, Lloyd P, van der Lugt R, Roozenburg N (2005) Human-centered Design Methodology. In H.H. Achten, K. Dorst, P.J. Stappers, and B. de Vries (eds.) Design Research in the Netherlands 2005, Design Systems Eindhoven:23–32. Design ThinkingGoogle Scholar
  5. Badke-Schaub P, Roozenburg NFM and Cardoso C (2010) A paradigm on its way from dilution to meaninglessness? Proceedings of the Design Thinking Research Symposium, October 2010, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  6. Birkhofer H (1993) Vom Produktvorschlag zum Produktflop – mit Planung und Methodik ins Desaster. In: Strohschneider S & von der Weth R (eds) Ja, mach nur einen Plan. Pannen und Fehlschläge – Ursachen, Beispiele, Lösungen. Huber, Bern:93–104Google Scholar
  7. Birkhofer H, Kloberdanz H, Berger B and Sauer T (2002) Cleaning up design methods - describing methods completely and standardized. Proceedings of Design 2002, DubrovnikGoogle Scholar
  8. Birkhofer H, Jänsch J and Kloberdanz H (2005) An extensive and detailed view of the application of design methods and methodology in industry. In: Samual A and Lewis W (eds) International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED’05, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown T (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, June 2008Google Scholar
  10. Brown T (2009) Change by design: how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. Harper Business, NYGoogle Scholar
  11. Cantamessa M (1997) Design best practice at work; an empirical research upon the effectiveness of design support tools. In the proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED’97, Tampere, FinlandGoogle Scholar
  12. Chater W (1999) The search for simplicity: A fundamental cognitive principle. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 52A (2):273–302Google Scholar
  13. Cross N (1989) Engineering design methods. John Wiley: ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  14. Daalhuizen J, Badke-Schaub P and Batill S (2009) Dealing with uncertainty in design practice: issues for designer-centered methodology. Proceedings of the ICED International Conference on Engineering Design, Stanford, CAGoogle Scholar
  15. Eder W (2009) Design Engineering and needs for methodology. In: Leifer L, Novell M and Skoggstad M (eds) Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED’09, Stanford, CAGoogle Scholar
  16. Frenkel-Brunswik E (1948) Intolerance of ambiguity as an emotional and perceptual personality variable, Journal of Personality 18:108–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hansen F (1956) Konstruktionssystematik. VEB-Verlag Technik, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  18. VDI-Richtlinie 2222 (1973) Konzipieren technischer Produkte Blatt 1. VDI-Verlag, DüsseldorfGoogle Scholar
  19. Hubka V (1973) Theorie der Maschinensysteme Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  20. Jaensch J (2007) Akzeptanz und Anwendung von Konstruktionsmethodik im industriellen Einsatz. Analyse und Empfehlungen aus kognitionswissenschaftlicher Sicht. VDI/ Fortschritt-Berichte. VDI-Verlag, DüsseldorfGoogle Scholar
  21. Jones JC (1977) How my thoughts about design methods have changed during the years. Design Methods and Theories, 11:50-62Google Scholar
  22. Jorden W (1983) Die Diskrepanz zwischen Konstruktionspraxis und Konstruktionsmethodik. Proceedings of the ICED International Conference on Engineering Design, ZürichGoogle Scholar
  23. Kesselring F (1942) Die „starke” Konstruktion. Gedanken zu einer Gestaltungslehre. VDI-Zeitschrift 86, 21/22:321–330Google Scholar
  24. Kleinsmann M, Buijs J and Valkenburg R (2005) Managing shared understanding in collaborative design projects. In: Samuel A and Lewis W (ed) International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED’05, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  25. Lockwood T (ed) (2009) Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value. Design Management Institute, Allworth Press, NYGoogle Scholar
  26. Martin RL (2009) The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage. Harvard Business School, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  27. Norman, D. (2010). Design Thinking. A useful myth? Core77, Accessed 16th June 2010. Scholar
  28. Pahl G and Beitz W (1977) Konstruktionslehre - Handbuch für Studium und Praxis. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  29. Pahl G, Badke-Schaub P and Frankenberger E (1999) Historical Background and Aims of Interdisciplinary Research between Bamberg, Darmstadt and Munich. Design Studies, 20:401–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Staw BM (1976) Knee-deep in the Big Muddy: A Study of Escalating Commitment to a Chosen Course of Action. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 16:27–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Stetter R and Lindemann U (2004) The transfer of methods into industry. In: Clarkson PJ, Eckert CM (eds) Design process improvement-A review of current practice, Springer:326–343Google Scholar
  32. Sweller J (1988) Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science, 12:257–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Reason JT (1990) Human Error. Cambridge, University PressGoogle Scholar
  34. Ritchie J and Spencer L (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis for Applied Policy Research. In Bryman A and Burgess RG (eds) Analyzing Qualitative Data. Taylor & FrancisGoogle Scholar
  35. Rodenacker WG (1970) Methodisches Konstruieren Konstruktionsbücher Bd 27. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  36. Roozenburg NFM, Eekels J (1995) Product Design: Fundamentals and Methods. John Wiley & SonsGoogle Scholar
  37. Rutz A (1994) Akzeptanz- und Transferfragen beim methodischen Konstruieren in der Industrie. In: Pahl G (ed), Psychologische und pädagogische Fragen beim methodischen Konstruieren. Verlag TÜV Rheinland, KolnGoogle Scholar
  38. Verganti R (2009) Design Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  39. Visser W (2009) Design: one but in different forms. Design Studies, 30:187–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wögerbauer H (1943) Die Technik des Konstruierens. OldenBourg, MünchenGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Badke-Schaub
    • 1
  • J. Daalhuizen
    • 1
  • N. Roozenburg
    • 1
  1. 1.Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations