Master Design Glossary

We’re always getting asked new questions about design terms and thought it might be useful to start collecting our answers onto one page. If you have a question about a design term, reach out, and we’ll be happy to define it for you (and add it to this list!).

Pardon our dust. This page is constantly changing as we build up our Trig design lexicon. Check back often for new terms!

+ Straw Man

A logic fallacy involving the purposeful misrepresentation of an argument for the express purpose of striking it down.

A Straw Man is a place to start, an initial concept or draft, not yet vetted, nor debated, nor validated, but rather a draft or sketch that can easily be torn down, edited, and refined

A Straw Man is intentionally weak and is asking to be challenged and defeated in an effort to build up better concepts in its stead.

+ The Creative Brief

A concise overview of all relevant info needed to meet the expectations for a project.

This document helps ensure that accurate expectations are set between creative professionals and stakeholders. It’s inspiring, visionary, goal oriented, aspirational, and pioneering.

  • Can be audacious and seemingly impossible.
  • Contains dreams and deadlines.
  • Includes both pragmatic/concrete goals AND elusive/romantic goals.

It sets the tone and guideposts for the project. It demonstrates what Trig brings to the table. It is to be challenged and changeable if neither inspiring nor true.

+ Unmet Need Statement

An enduring statement that drives commercial potential. It’s the DNA of solutions. It’s a solution-free, scoped, specific, verified statement that’s pleasant to the the ear and in best practice includes a metric for success.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

-- Theodore Levitt, economist and professor at Harvard Business School

+ Challenge Statement

Similar to an Unmet Need Statement, but refined to specific perspectives as a catalyst for brainstorming, and posed as a question (challenge)

Method: “How might we (need) (perspective)?”


  • How might we resolve the need in a different industry?
  • How might we address the need in a negative world (the evil or anti need)?
  • How might we resolve the need with more limited or specific resources?

+ DFM (Design for Manufacturing)

Design for Manufacturing is the process of designing products and their individual components with greater ease of manufacturing in mind. The goal is to lower costs and heighten efficiency for optimized output.

+ DFP (Design for Prototype)

Design for Prototype is the process of designing products and their individual components for the creation of a prototype, allowing greater changability and testing capabilities than may appear in the final product.

+ Prototype

Any demonstration of a product and/or brand concept prior to a commercial product or published marketing asset.

It’s important to clarify the type of prototype within an otherwise broad definition.

Prototype Terms:

Feedback: Form, Function, Fit, and Feel (think bar graph)

Resolution: Low to High (sliding scale)

Dimension: 2D vs 3D

Cost: Low to High (sliding scale)

Speed: Real time to Weeks (sliding scale)

+ Prototype Feedback

Feedback - aka What is the purpose of the prototype?

Form: A “looks-like” prototype to attain feedback with respect to aesthetics

Function: A “works-like” prototype to attain feedback wrt user experience and functionality

Fit: Demonstrates how multiple components are assembled

Feel: To attain ergonomic feedback

+ High Resolution Prototype

3D models and/or 2D renderings that will cost more and take longer to produce. This is what you may need for a marketing booth and/or web site

+ Low Resolution Prototype

2D sketches can be done inexpensively, often in real time or rapid turnaround. Made to ensure the work is going in the right direction and that diverse aspects of the project are all in sync.

+ Prototyping Tools

  • Pen and Paper
  • Legos, Clay, Pipe Cleaners
  • Foam Models
  • Props
  • Rapid Manufacturing Techniques
    • Additive/Layered Manufacturing (aka 3D Printing)
    • Laser Cutting
  • Digital Tools
    • CAD
    • Keyshot
    • Adobe Software