The importance of visualisation in concept design

Darren W. Dahl, Amitava Chattopadhyay, Gerald Gorn

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


This research seeks to advance our understanding of how visualisation can facilitate concept design. It focuses on how designers' use of a specific cognitive process, visualisation, can influence the development of design concepts. The paper presents a conceptual framework that links the type of visualisation (memory vs imagination) and the content of visualisation (incorporation of the end user) to the nature of the design process and to the nature of the design outcome, i.e. its originality, usefulness, and customer appeal. Two experiments are presented that test the propositions that flow from the proposed model. The results indicate that the designer's experience in the design process improves in terms of the difficulty experienced in designing the product and information value, as a function of whether the imaginative visualisation is used, and whether or not the end user is incorporated in the visualisation. Additionally, visualisation, by the designer, that involves both imagination and images of the end user, results in designs that are perceived to be more useful by the end user. This effect, however, is not realised when memory visualisation and images of the end user are combined. Finally, and most importantly, visualising the end user in combination with imagination-based visualisation led to designs that were significantly more appealing to the customer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-26
Number of pages22
JournalDesign Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Conceptual design
  • Marketing
  • Psychology of design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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