Systems Design?

Systems design is simply the design of systems versus the design of individual components. It implies a systematic and rigorous approach that can be scaled to projects of varying sizes and levels of complexity.

Systems design transcends individual design discipline and instead focuses on the process of defining the architecture, modules, components, interfaces, and staging of a project or product. It formalizes the steps and tasks required to complete a project.

Systems design is especially important in complex, collaborative, multidisciplinary projects because it emphasizes the process over the specific outcomes and ensures that all team members agree on the same approach to design thinking. In general, systems thinking creates the following framework: 

  • For this situation, what is the system?
  • What is the environment?
  • What goal does the system have in relation to its environment?
  • What is the feedback loop by which the system corrects its actions?
  • How does the system measure whether it has achieved its goal?
  • Who defines and monitors the system/environment?
  • What resources does the system have for maintaining the relationship it desires?
  • Are its resources sufficient to meet its purpose?

Consistent with user-centered design, systems design first considers user goals and understands their interactions with the system and with each other.

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