Design methods

Our design methods can be defined by 6 distinct phases. These phases are not undertaken in a linear way, but rather each can inform a previous or following phase.

The Rural Design Centre's design method graphic. The long description of this graphic is detailed on this page.


We form relationships with people and organisations in rural areas. This enables us us find the issues faced, and people who could help with potential solutions.

We also keep a look out for sources of funding, which could help to fund any ideas that emerge.


We spend time researching the problem, using methods such as:

  • desk research
  • workshops
  • observation
  • interviews
  • fact finding events
  • talking to subject matter experts

We’re keen on experiencing the problem first hand, so we can get a good understanding of the issues. This helps us empathise with the people facing these problems, and help shape good outcomes.


The things we have learned in the discovery phase, will often lead us to define the challenge in many different ways.

From here, we will establish a problem statement that will help us to keep on track when identifying potential solutions.


Now the problem is clearly defined, we will work towards ideas as to how we can solve the problem. This is not something we do on our own, but would rather facilitate workshops and ideas sessions with people who have lived experience and knowledge of the issues.


We will test out some of the ideas that have come from the development phase. We don’t go forward with one idea, but will look to test various smaller ideas to work out which ones to keep and improve, and which to reject.

By testing ideas quickly and inexpensively, we ensure that not too much time is spent creating something that doesn’t work. This takes the risk out of projects, and saves valuable resources in the long term.


Once we have learned from testing which ideas will work the best for everyone (end users and stakeholders), we will support getting the solutions up and running.

This could be finding funding to build the idea, or supporting in other ways such as helping to get endorsement or buy-in from those that are needed to take the project forward.