This thesis concerns the study and development of design evaluation methods applicable to
conceptual design. The initial research reveals that the techniques and methodologies
currently available for evaluation are useful for selecting preferred concepts from a number of
candidate solutions during the early conceptual design. However, the later concept
development stage does not have well structured techniques or methodologies to assist in
evaluation of design proposals as definitive layout drawings are developed.
It is clear that the end of the concept development stage is a crucial point in the design
process since any design work beyond this point marks the beginning of detail design,
incurring higher cost and more limited opportunities for design changes. At this point a
structured approach which would help to update the product design specification and enhance
the evaluation process by identifying design weaknesses and conflict would lower the risks of
ultimate design failure. To achieve this goal, an evaluation technique based on the
differentiation of design contexts has been proposed and tested to provide the basis for a
design evaluation enhancement method potentially or real value to academia and design
The work covered in this thesis is based on the hypothesis that evaluation within distinct
design contexts will be more effective than use of checklists composed of mixed criteria as
currently employed. The hypothesis was tested by experimentation with Masters and PhD
engineering design students as participants. This was followed by interviews with
experienced designers. Evidence from the tests and interviews supported the hypothesis.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.