Step 2 | Identify the Constraints

Step 2 | Identify the Constraints

Design constraints are limitations imposed on possible design solutions. These include limitations that are out of your control (such as those imposed by stakeholders, the development organization, or by external regulations) as well as ones that are self-imposed as a way to improve design. For example:

  • What are the time and resource limitations?
  • Are you working within local or state government restrictions?
  • Are there certain must haves that your project needs to meet?

Constraints may be imposed upon any part of the system. A straightforward approach to identifying design constraints is to categorize the type of constraints (e.g., hardware, software, procedural) and then identify the specific constraints for each category. The following are common types of design constraints:

  • Commercial Constraints: Basic commercial constraints such as time and budget
  • Requirements: Functional requirements such as specifications of features for a website
  • Non-Functional Requirements: Requirements that specify intangible elements of a design
  • Compliance: Compliance to applicable laws, regulations, and standards
  • Style: A style guide related to an organization, brand, product, service, environment, or project
  • Sensory Design: Constraints may apply to taste, touch, sound, and smell
  • Usability: Usability principles, frameworks, and standards
  • Principles: The design principles of an organization, team, or individual
  • Integration: A design that needs to work with other products, services, systems, processes, controls, partners, information, etc.

Placing the project within such constraints will help you define the scope of what is plausible.

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