The initial phases of the design process — including interactions with stakeholders, ideation of concept candidates, and the selection of the best candidates — have a large impact on the success of a project as a whole. They also tend to be the most unstructured portion of the project, and are often marginalized by teams who assume they already understand stakeholder needs and the best solution paths to pursue. Design researchers have developed methods shown to increase the creativity and divergent thinking of the design team during these initial phases of design. Nevertheless, these methods often rely on only a vague or amorphous representation of the design space (the set of all possible concepts the design team could feasibly select to meet the objective of the project). In this paper, we introduce a particular design-space structure that can help teams ideate and evaluate their ideation, thus improving the early phases of the design process. The design space presented here is a vector space with a basis of technology (the physical product people will use) and tactics (the procedure for using the product). Also presented are definitions, principles, and sub-theories that facilitate the creation and use of technology-tactics plots to represent the design space. Considering the design space in this structured way, the design team can gain valuable insights that improve the effectiveness of the initial stages of design, and may yield additional benefits to the design process as a whole, if further developed.

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