Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

Design Heuristics in Innovative Products

[+] Author and Article Information
Seda Yilmaz

Department of Industrial Design,
Iowa State University,
146 College of Design,
Ames, IA 50010
e-mail: seda@iastate.edu

Colleen Seifert

Department of Psychology,
University of Michigan,
3042 East Hall,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
e-mail: seifert@umich.edu

Shanna R. Daly

College of Engineering,
University of Michigan,
210 Gorguze Family Laboratory,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
e-mail: srdaly@umich.edu

Richard Gonzalez

Department of Psychology,
University of Michigan,
426 Thompson Street,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
e-mail: gonzo@umich.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received February 13, 2015; final manuscript received November 11, 2015; published online June 1, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Carolyn Seepersad.

J. Mech. Des 138(7), 071102 (Jun 01, 2016) (12 pages) Paper No: MD-15-1098; doi: 10.1115/1.4032219 History: Received February 13, 2015; Revised November 11, 2015

Current design theory lacks a systematic method to identify what designers know that helps them to create innovative products. In the early stages of idea generation, designers may find novel ideas come readily to mind, or may become fixated on their own or existing products. This may limit the ability to consider more and more varied candidate concepts that may potentially lead to innovation. To aid in idea generation, we sought to identify “design heuristics,” or “rules of thumb,” evident in award-winning designs. In this paper, we demonstrate a content analysis method for discovering heuristics in the designs of innovative products. Our method depends on comparison to a baseline of existing products so that the innovative change can be readily identified. Through an analysis of key features and functional elements in the designs of over 400 award-winning products, 40 heuristic principles were extracted. These design heuristics are outlined according to their perceived role in changing an existing product concept into a novel design, and examples of other products using the heuristics are provided. To demonstrate the ease of use of these design heuristics, we examined outcomes from a classroom study and found that concepts created using design heuristics were rated as more creative and varied. The analysis of changes from existing to innovative products can provide evidence of useful heuristic principles to apply in creating new designs.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
Topics: Design
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Fig. 1

((a) and (b)) An expert designer's concepts reflect the heuristic add-on, take out, or fold away components when not in use [31]

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Fig. 3

Heuristic extraction process

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Fig. 4

((a) and (b)) Example designs for heuristic example 1 (convert two-dimensional materials into three-dimensional)

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Fig. 5

((a) and (b)) Example designs for heuristic example 2 (use packaging as a functional component within the product)

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Fig. 6

((a) and (b)) Example designs for heuristic example 3 (hide/collapse/flatten design elements not in use using by nesting)

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Fig. 7

((a) and (b)) Example designs for heuristic example 4 (convert into modular units by repeating or splitting elements)

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Fig. 8

((a) and (b)) Example designs for heuristic example 5 (use same design element, color, and graphics for visual consistency)

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Fig. 9

Illustration of four different design heuristics applied to a new design problem, producing four different concepts

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Fig. 10

An example heuristic, illustration, and product examples

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Fig. 11

Example design solutions from student concepts in which heuristic use was evident versus not evident

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Fig. 12

Creativity (CAT) rating levels separated by evidence of heuristic use, with the number of concepts per rating is shown at the top

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Fig. 13

Concept examples with high and low creativity scores

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Fig. 14

Diversity ratings as a function of heuristic use

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Fig. 15

An example set of diverse design solutions generated by one student




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