For me, there are five things that everyone should now about design. The first is that design is everywhere. Unless it is something found in nature, it had to be designed and built by someone. Which leads to the second point, anyone can and everyone does do design. Some people are formally trained as designers (such as industrial designers, engineers, architects), but everyone gets a chance to do some kind of design. For example, a teacher may have to design a test.
The third point about design is that it is about problem-solving. The purpose of a design is not for the designer to express some inner emotion (that would be art) and it isn’t about understanding nature (that would be science), it is about providing a solution to a real or perceived need.
The fourth point is that design involves communication. This is what most people think of design, but drawings, models and presentations is only the expression of the design, it still requires the problem-solving component. Communication between all the stakeholders in the project is essential and is different for each group. The kind of drawing that is needed by the client is different from the technical drawing needed by a fabricator.
The fifth point is that design involves dealing with constraints. From the desinger’s point-of-view, there are two kinds of constraints — external and internal. External constraints are not usually controllable, and typically include the three essential elements of any project: budget, time and project requirements. Any design that prevents the project from meeting its project requirements and be on-time and on-budget will be judged as a failure.
Internal constraints are those that the designer can control and must control to make the design what it will be. For example, a fashion designer who creates a new shirt, whould choose the material and how the shirt will look. And, while the shirt may be offered in many colours, it is the designer who will pick those colours.
Finally, while these things are basic, it is incredible how many people don’t realize what a designer does. Perhaps all those TV shows that have highly-emotional, egoistical designers have hurt the reputation of all designers.