Design Glossary

Broaden your understanding and knowledge in design. View our short list of important design terms.

aesthetics

Aesthetics refers to the beauty of a product with respect to the different senses, particularly visually. The aesthetics of a product is often referring to the visual appearance of that product, this is connected to the form, color, texture, and material.

archetype

An archetype is a commonly understood representation of a group, symbol, setting, or theme.

back-end

Back-end refers to the ending in a design process, maybe manufacture or implementation phases. Back-end can also refer to the behind the scenes parts of a service, this can be the analytics or operations.

banner

Banner often refers to the video, illustration, image, or animation on a website, app, social media, or advertisement. A good banner is utilized to increase sales and brand awareness.

brainstorm

A brainstorm is a group ideation session to produce innovative ideas, concepts, and solutions to a problem or prompt. Proper brainstorming is essential in the design thinking process and contains a multitude of methods and techniques to optimize and improve idea generation.

brand positioning

Brand positioning defines how a target audience perceives the brand. It defines the distinctive space that the brand takes in the customer’s mind in comparison to other brands.

brand strategy

Brand strategy is a unique long-term plan a business creates to connect with their customers/audience. A good brand strategy connects to an audience’s emotions, wants, and desires.

CAD

CAD is an acronym for Computer-Aided Design

concept

A concept is a developed idea for a problem.

customer journey map

A customer journey map is a design tool used to understand, visualize, and improve a customer/user interaction with a brand, service, and/or product. The goal is to optimize and improve the customer experience.

design

Design is the plan and process of creating objects, ideas, and/or solutions for people.

design research

Design research is the knowledge building and understanding of a design subject. The goal is to obtain a deeper understanding and insight to strengthen the definition and ideation phases in the design process.

design sprint

A design sprint is a process that takes a group of people through a 5-day design thinking workshop. The group starts with empathising and ends with testing a prototype. This style of design sprints was constructed by google venture’s Jake Knapp. A design sprint can take more than 5 days, it just depends on the planing and scheduling. A sprint is also known more generally to focus on a task within a certain timeframe. For instance, a person can do a 2-hour sprint and focus on a topic or assignment.

design thinking

Design Thinking is an iterative process typically divided into 6 phases: empathise, define, ideation, prototype, test and implement. This is a human-centered approach that focuses on understanding, developing, testing, and improving products, services, and processes.

dispersed team

A group of individuals who work together from varying locations. These teams utilize virtual means to communicate and work together.

empathy maps

Empathy maps help a team understand how the target audience thinks and feels. More specifically, what they do, say, see, and hear. Empathy maps can help generate a strong user persona which also enhances solutions.

ergonomics or human factors

Ergonomics is the study and design of human interaction with products, processes, and systems.

fluid team

Fluid teams are a group of people that assemble and disassemble to project needs. This process is efficient in gathering interdisciplinary teams to solve complex problems.

front end

Front end refers to the early stages of the design process. In design thinking, this can refer to the empathise, define, and ideation phases. Front end can also refer to the direct interaction that a user has with a product or service.

human-centered design or user-centered design

Human-centered design is a framework to develop a deep user understanding. This is achieved by empathising with users in order to ideate impactful and purposeful strategic solutions.

illustration

An illustration is a visual interpretation of a concept or idea to communicate to your target audience.

industrial design (also known as physical design or product design)

Industrial design is the user-centered improvement or creation of consumer products with a focus on ergonomics, aesthetics, and function. Industrial designers strive for both function and beauty to create impactful real-world solutions.

ideation

Ideation is the process of strategic and creative solution exploration towards a prompt or problem statement. Ideation occurs throughout the design thinking process as new ideas are being developed or improved. The word ideation is used interchangeably with brainstorming.

innovation

A creative new concept, idea, process, product, or service that creates value to customers, users, or audiences.

innovation workshop

An innovation workshop is half-day (sometimes less) group collaborative session focused on generating solutions towards a problem or prompt. We sometimes find out that the biggest challenge and is truly identifying your challenge.

logo

The logo is a graphic mark, emblem, or symbol utilized as a part of the overall brand strategy.

minimum viable product or MVP

Minimum viable product refers to utilizing a lower quality product that fulfills the necessary functionality. This is often used in rapid prototyping in order to obtain quick feedback to improve the final product.

mood board

A mood board is a collection of images centered around a topic or theme in order to obtain a deeper understanding.

panel

A panel is one visualization within a storyboard. A storyboard is broken down into multiple panels to show a story visually.

persona

Personas are fictional characters created to represent real people, their needs, wants, desires, thoughts, and more. Personas are useful to narrow down the target audience for defining problems and ideating solutions.

rendering

Rendering refers to higher resolutions images of a concept or idea. These images can be hand-drawn or computer-generated.

service blueprint

A service blueprint expands on the customer journey map by breaking down and visualizing the service ecosystem (the processes, structure, support, etc.). The service blueprint is broken down into 5 areas: physical evidence, customer actions, front stage, backstage, and support processes.

service design

Service design is the study, understanding, planning, and improvement of the customer/user interactions with a business’s brand, products, services, and processes.

sketch

A sketch is a rough drawing of a concept or idea.

storyboarding

Storyboarding is a visualization of a customer, user, product’s experience or process. A Storyboard usually tells a main character story with multiple panels.

tagline

A tagline is a phrase that is utilized to help emphasize the brand messaging. Ex. “Just do it” – Nike

target audience

A group of customers or users that your company is designing for.

visual brand language

Visual brand language is the style, fonts, aesthetics, feel, and overall branding established for a group of products.

whitespace, negative space, opportunity space

A space in a market with the possibility of innovation.

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