Criterion A.5, Design Specifications

Criterion A.5, Design Specifications

Edison once more.  This is the final piece of Criterion A for your IA Design Project, Visitor.  The design specifications.

The Rubric, for quick access to reference it.

Design specifications

These are a list of how you'll know if the solution you design actually solves your problem acceptably.  Set the bar high but feasible, so you have something great to aim at.  Meeting every specification you set is less important than knowing clearly what it is, moving toward it through the design process, and explaining the progress you made.

You've heard of "SMART" goals before, right, Visitor?  Design specifications are like that.  To be useful, you need to write them so they are:

  1. Specific.  This should be clear from the name, but in case it's not - make each specification very specific.
  2. Measurable.  If it's not measurable, how can you check whether you met the spec or not?
  3. User centered.  Everything designed is ultimately about the user; how does each spec focus on the user experience?
  4. Related.  Each spec should relate to what you discovered as you defined and researched your problem in the rest of this criterion.  Nothing here should be a surprise to anyone reading your Design Folder.
  5. Feasible.  Based on what you can do, the time you have, the budget, and so on, plan for each specification to be something you can meet.

Depending on your project, you may set specs in some of the areas listed on the rubric but not in others.  You may have some that don't fit the categories on the rubric (that's fine!).  Each specification you write, though, should meet all of the qualifications listed above.  If it doesn't, when you have to evaluate against it, later, it will make your job more difficult.

With each specification you write, you'll also need to describe why that specification is important to include, based on your problem definition, user research, and market research.  What makes each specification matter, in the final analysis?

Ready?  Set?  Start writing those design specifications (in the same document you've already been working on).  When you're done, link it here.


That's down to brass tacks, Visitor.  For SL students, feel free to stop here if you'd like.  For HL students (or really diligent SL students), you should consider

Testing procedures

For each specification you've listed, how will you test it later to determine whether your design met it?  Write (briefly) about the testing method you'll use for each.

This may require you to expand your idea of testing methods.  Some that beginning employees sometimes overlook include

  • Visual inspection - some specifications can be checked simply by looking at your product
  • Tactile (feeling) inspection
  • Expert review - perhaps you need an expert (retail store owner, manufacturer, doctor, and so on) to confirm it

When you've added notes on the testing method for each specification you've written, you're ready to claim Mastery for this job.

Only you know how solid a foundation you've built for yourself, Visitor.  I hope it's a really well-founded one.  Extra work and thought now will really pay off later, as you continue to build your Design Folder.  I'm going to turn you over to Franklin now, for some seriously fun ideation.

Skip to toolbar