Scoping and Design


  • In general, processes are more efficient when they are arranged in a pipeline of batched operations
  • That principle equally applies to creative processes
  • When designing a product with a significant amount of unknowns it is good to separate information gathering from information refinement
  • With such a division, Scoping is the information gathering phase and Design is the information refinement phase


Friction Free

  • A good scoping process creates minimal friction for capturing information
    • Scoping should be optimized for writing, not reading
  • Organizing captured scoping information is not a priority
    • With repeated scoping the process can be gradually refined and more structure added without increasing friction
  • After scoping is finished the collective scoping documents can act as a long-term archive
    • The information in this archive may rarely be needed, and querying it may require some rummaging and interpretation, but the information is there when needed

Scoping Composition

  • Depending on the nature of the product being designed, scoping commonly contains some or all of the following elements:
    • Notes
    • Brainstorming
    • Existing reference samples
    • Links to external resources



  • Ideally Design doesn’t begin until Scoping has finished
  • Often circumstances do not permit such separation and the two phases overlap
  • When there is overlap between Scoping and Design it is good to treat them as separate contexts, consciously switching back and forth between Scoping mode and Design mode


  • The output of Scoping is the primary input for Design
  • Design takes raw scoping information and refines it into well organized and easy-to-use documentation
  • It can be useful for individual elements of design documents to link to scoping artifacts so that design decisions can be traced back to their motivation origins

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