What is a Design Review?

A design review is a simple and well-detailed document that showcases careful examination and in-depth analysis concerning a specific design project. It is a fundamental record made by the project manager, design evaluator and lead designer which outlines the detected issues or nonconformities that need to be resolved in the design project and allows the overall design management team to clearly observe, print, measure, and markup various files composed of different kinds of 2D and 3D contents. Reviewing a particular design project is essential in order to make sure that the development of the design project reflects the needs, requirements and preferences of the clients accurately and the overall design and project budget are in agreement from one another.

According to a statistical report, 60% of consumers rate usability as a crucial design characteristic for an online business and other commercial establishments. Refining your design through a comprehensive design review is very important to satisfy your prospects’ needs and preferences. Thus, all types of designers and project managers in the design field such as product designers, research designers, architectural and engineering designers, graphic designers, software designers, application designers, program designers, web designers, and many others should document, evaluate, and review their respective design project through an effective and systematic design review for their work and other design projects.

Different Types of Design Reviews

Steve Jobs said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Designers, lead designers, product developers, and project managers need to work on their design projects and have their projects scheduled to have a regular design review with their executive manager to provide clear input on their design projects and to examine the implementation of their designs and see if they actually work. In this section, you will learn and understand about the different types of design reviews. To assist you in this matter, we will introduce and explain to you about the different kinds of design reviews below:

1. Building and Site Design Review

Many building and site designers increase their focus these days on aesthetics, construction, environment, performance, structure, socio-economic drivers, cultural identity and many other integral aspects rather than concentrating solely on contemporary architecture. By using a building and site design review, professionals in the architectural, engineering and construction fields are able to re-think their design approach radically and consider adopting new technologies to support their modern design transition. Also, they can pinpoint the essential aspects that they need to further improve and modify other aspects in their building and site projects according to the respective needs and preferences of their clients. When writing a simple building and site design review, you need to outline the design evaluation process, planning fees and other items required for the design review.

2. Product Design Review

The Japanese Industrial Standards noted that a design review in the process of judgment and improvement of a particular item or product at the design phase in terms of function, reliability and other characteristics, as well as cost and delivery constraints. Several specialists in design, inspection and implementation also work in this aspect to check and make sure that the products reach high quality levels. Moreover, a product design review is important to make the best of available knowledge and technology from both in-house and outside sources, especially when it comes to resolving problems as they arise. Thus, many companies and major corporations apply design review throughout product development and production planning to help them maintain consistent quality results of their products.

3. Software Application Design Review

At an early stage in the software development process, a software application design review is made by holding a technical meeting with executives, software developers, and application designers so that they are able to demonstrate a presentation of a planned software and app design at an early stage. Doing this process allows for changes or any modification necessary based on the needs and preferences of the intended audience like the investors and stakeholders. When reviewing software applications, the author needs to verify that the criteria is fulfilled, preparation of the design review, conducting the review, capturing, consolidating and analyzing review comments and optimizing the overall design review process.

4. Preliminary Design Review

Designers use a preliminary design review to make a technical assessment that sets up the allocated baseline of a certain system to ensure the operational effectiveness of a system. It is usually performed prior to the start of comprehensive design work and it is the time when the management will closely make an observation of the overall design of the product or service. To guarantee that the system or service under design review has a logical expectation of fulfilling the requirements within the allocated project budget and schedule, a preliminary design review is created to set up the allocated baseline and other underlying architectures.

Basic Elements of a Design Review

In this section, you will learn how to construct a remarkably written and well-detailed design review. However, a design review has different features. Include the following elements for you to create an excellent document:

Title: One of the fundamental elements of a design review report is the title. It is a simple yet compelling line of the document which portrays the main topic, or subject of the review report, as well as to invite the readers like executives, project manager and lead designers efficiently. It is usually set in a size larger than other remaining text elements in the page.Executive Summary: This part is the gist of your design review report. It gives a high-level summary of the design review. Include some subsections written in a natural language that does not have irrelevant technical details. Write the background which describes the design project or product, the objectives of design review, as well as the one who authorized the conducted design development review and evaluation. Add the summary of findings and conclusions which explain credible answers to design review questions. Design Analysis and Review Details: What are the key details about the design review and evaluation? While highlighting the core aspects of the design project, it should be aimed at detailing the credibility of facts as identified during the design development review. Explain the design evaluation techniques used, and other methods applied. Specify the methodologies, tools, and equipment utilized to examine the design process. Develop an analysis derived from relevant and factual findings.Accuracy and Conciseness: Point out the valuable pieces of information. Try your best writing your design review report accurately and concisely by applying both short words and short sentences.  Eliminate the use of ambiguous words that are unnecessary to your design review form. Simple sentences starting with I or we are now acceptable in research reports, making your design review report writing clearer and more readable.

How to Write a Design Review

Project managers, product developers, system developers, and designers need to use design reviews to give critical and independent assessment, detect issues and resolve them off-line, ascertain that interfaces are well understood, facilitate communication among fellow design team members and users, document achievements, and implies that a certain accomplishment is completed. Below are some easy-to-follow tips  that indicate how to write a professional design review:

Step 1: Define your Goals and Decisions

Have some enough time to properly set and define your major goals and decisions concerning the design review that you will carry out. There are many times that you always formulate design decisions and you need to point out your reason why you made that particular decision. Explain your side and clarify your design decisions in the review, reminding your audience why your are working on that design project.

Step 2: Structure the Analysis

For the design analysis, inform your clients and stakeholders that they must approach your design project from the perspective of how well your design project solves the concern or issue at hand. So, outline and structure any items and aspects of your design that you need decisions in the analysis. Concentrate on the right high-level elements of what you are working on. Consider these questions: Does it reach the goals and needs of the user? Is it feasible based on the resources available?

Step 3:  Demonstrate the Design Solution

To effectively demonstrate the design solution, it is effective if you tell a story about your design project from the user’s perspective. Discuss the type of user, their demographics and location. Also, consider your clients and stakeholders while explaining your solution.

Step 4:  Write with Accuracy and Conciseness

Check and make sure that the design review contains an accurate description of all essential details. Carefully check if the content is clear, concise, and understandable to valuable decision-makers, and ascertain that the analysis report contains sufficient data to establish an authentic relevance of conclusions. Follow a standardized approach in the layout and presentation of the facts.

Step 5:  Proofread and Check the Overall Design Review

Take a closer look at your overall design review and be sure to fully include all the key points in your design review report. If you notice that you overlook some sections that require adequate points, we recommend that you edit and revise the document.

Step 6: Prepare the Final Design Review

After the proofreading and revision process, you can now prepare the final design review. Add some notes and other key messages you want to explain to your intended audience on the last part of your document. Skim your report for final evaluation and quality check. 


What are some examples of design reviews?

Some examples of design reviews are building and site design review checklist, Autodesk design review, supplemental application design review, administrative design review submittal checklist, historic district design review, preliminary design review, major site design plan review, engineering design review report, and more.

What is the importance of a design review?

The importance of a design review is to have a record of core information about the design project, and to check whether the designed part of the design project has been designed in the right manner or not and if they will fail in practical circumstances. Conducting a comprehensive design review allows the design management and customers to gain clear insight into the technical status of the product, program or service, as well as the design team to acquire valuable feedback on potential concerns involving the design project.

What are the essential steps in creating a design review?

First, plan and conduct a design analysis. After that, outline the structure of the design review. Develop an in-depth analysis, clear interpretation and demonstrate clear results. Also, write with accuracy, conciseness, and discretion. Proofread and check the overall design review report. Lastly, prepare the final design review.

What are some major questions that designers used when reviewing a design project?

Some major questions that designers must use when reviewing their design project are: What does the design show? What does it mean? Is what it shows and what it means the same thing? Do we want that particular design aspect? Why do we need to show that design here? Does it reach the standards and preferences of the clients or customers? How does the design project make you feel? What are the specific elements of the design that you want to further enhance?

Therefore, design review is a very important and meaningful system which involves collecting and examining objective knowledge about the quality of a specific design project, product, or service and setting up the concrete plans for carrying out the review in order to suggest significant improvements at each point, and to make a confirmation that the process is ready to proceed to the next stage. Preparing a cohesive design review enables executives, project managers, lead designers and other designers to conduct in-depth analysis and review of their designs and improve their quality and overall aspects. So, here are some of our downloadable and printable design review samples available in different kinds of formats. Simply click the design review templates in this article such as historic district design review, preliminary design review, building site design plan review, engineering design review report, and others and start downloading now!