The D4 design process

The D4 process is simple to integrate into teams that have to solve for different design challenges. Regardless of whether you are an industrial designer or graphic designer, this framework adds clarity to the process of creative effort. Without process, the energy becomes a non-linear duration, and endless cycles of revisions are the outcome. The painful result we have all experienced is an unhappy client. Clients accept a certain amount of uncertainty and risk, but they become fearful when they don’t understand where they are in the development of the product or service. It is the designer’s job to articulate the process they will undertake. The designer should be able to show the business lead the status of the project and their current design thinking. The design process is a journey. The D4 process is the map.


The success of the design is defined by the scope, resources, schedule, and quality of the product or service you want to create. The output is a creative brief and a project plan with a clear statement of what the business challenge is and listing of the deliverables.


Before design can occur the content needs to be written, approved, and the digital assets created. At this stage, initial mood boards or prototypes are developed to show the design direction before work occurs. If the solution is known, the designer refers to the templates and double checks this against the business process to ensure alignment to the visual strategy.

As part of this process, convergent and divergent thinking between the team is required to push the design concept beyond the expected.


The design stage is where the designer assembles all the content and elements from the holistic visual framework including logos, typography, colour pathways, photography, patterns, and iconography. The resulting solution is shown how it fits upstream and downstream of the business process. At the client meeting there should be no surprises because they would have agreed to the milestone approvals that lead to the final design.


Files undergo a preflight check and deployment to publishing platforms occurs across relevant touchpoints. The project is closed and archived.


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