I’m sometimes asked what concepting is and how it fits into the process of developing a product. Different people have different opinions of how needed concepting is. I’ve been told that it is a waste of time by some, and that it’s imperative by others. In my experience, skipping concepting is a bad thing and so is too much of it. Too little and the idea might not be as good as it could be. Too much and you end up in a downward spiral of second guessing your ideas.
Concepting is the process of taking any idea, expanding on it and creating new and different versions and variations of it. This typically comes with some kind of review of those concepts to narrow them down. The expanding and contracting of ideas lets us create freely. Allowing us to put our heads in the clouds, and then become grounded again in the selection process. This is where innovation can truly shine, and bring ideas that would never have been created, to life. While creativity and innovation are a part of the entire process, concepting is where there should be no limits.
The tools of concepting are many and varied. The most common is sketching with quick 3D modeling a closing second. Another favorite is using foam to create “sketch” models of ideas. In some instances creating a full model to explain a concept is needed. It can also be a great step in the process. Take care design for example. They sketch, then they model, including full scale models so they can see the design in natural light outside. It’s still concepting and the design is still changing, even though it’s huge and takes weeks and teams to make. It’s all about the best way to communicate an idea. For the most part, we’re able to stay to the sketching and 3D side, which is the most cost effective. However, tangible models can be needed to fully understand a concept.
Concepting is absolutely imperative for most projects. Well thought out designs usually come from some form of concepting. Some projects can definitely do with less concepting, but even just brief concepting can create better solutions than the original idea. Never assume the first idea is the best idea. There is always room for improvement on original ideas, however great they may be. I’ve only come across a couple original ideas that went to market with little changing. However, I’ve worked on hundreds of products, and that means less than 1% of original ideas came out as the best way to move forward. You can also learn more about concepting in our two other articles: 5 Ways to Use Concepting (Ideation) Effectively with Your Designer & Concept vs Design