Here at Haughton Design, we work on a variety of projects from a wide range of industry sectors. As a result, we develop a range of innovative concepts for new products and medical devices which can make selecting one final concept difficult.

These concepts often utilize a range of different design features and attributes, inevitably some are stronger than others in certain areas such as safety, aesthetics, manufacturability and ease of use as well as some great all-rounders! This is where using an idea judgement matrix comes in.

You may have heard an idea judgment matrix being referred to in a number of variations, whether it be an “Idea Judgment Matrix”, “Design Matrix”, “Grid Analysis” or “Pugh Matrix”, they’re all roughly the same thing! Design Development Engineer, Phil, discusses how to format an Idea Judgement Matrix as well as how we use Idea Judgement Matrices here at HD to help make challenging design decisions simple:

An idea judgement matrix works by evaluating different attributes from different concept designs, or even design features, depending on how granular you decide to take the matrix. Selecting the “Right” or “Best” concept to move forward into the feasibility and design development phases can be tricky. You want to select a concept that ticks all of the boxes. Using an idea judgement matrix will narrow your options to help make a final decision by balancing a variety of important factors. This will allow you to approach making the decision of which concept to further develop from a logical viewpoint, instead of an emotional or biased view.

When creating your idea Judgement matrix, it’s important to consider and select important design attributes that will influence and factor into your decision. Defining this set of attributes helps you identify the best decision to avoid prejudice in your final selection. For example, when creating an idea judgement matrix to aid in selecting from concepts for a medical device, some of the most useful attributes we often use at HD are; Weight, Ease of use, Cost, Aesthetics, Part Count, Plastic Content, Design Complexity and finally, Manufacturability.

Of course, there are more attributes to choose from, but its best to select the most important project specific factors that will ensure you arrive at a well-rounded decision. I would suggest not using too many attributes as too many can dilute the result – I would usually recommend a maximum of 8 attributes. Before it comes to filling out your newly set up idea judgement matrix, you must decide on the scoring criteria. This means scoring each attribute on a predetermined scale. I would recommend a scale of 1-5, where 5 is the best.

It’s likely that different attributes will be more important to certain projects. For example, if “Cost” or “Ease of Use” are critical factors in the decision-making process, then these attributes should be weighted heavier than the other attributes. If this is the case, then consider adding weight to your idea judgement matrix attributes. Once the matrix is filled in, you’ll multiply the weight factor by the corresponding attribute score. The weighted version of your idea judgement matrix might look like this example.

After the results have been calculated in this example, Concept Idea 1 is the highest scoring concept. Even though Concept Idea 3 is slightly cheaper than Concept Idea 1, Concept Idea 1’s combined score for “Cost” and “Ease of Use” make it the best choice overall.

Hopefully this insight into how we use idea judgment matrices here at HD has been useful and will help you when making quick but informed design decisions, whether it’s by helping you decide your latest product concept or which new coffee machine to get for the office! Idea judgement matrices can be used to make challenging decisions simple, why not give it a go?

Get in touch to discuss how we can help with your new product or medical device development project.

Phil Sampey 6 July 2022

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Get in Touch with Phil Sampey

Design Development Engineer

Phil graduated from Staffordshire University with a degree in Automotive Technology. Since joining HD, Phil has primarily been working on a number of medical device projects, supported by his wide range of experience from prototype manufacturing, plastic injection moulding and CNC machined parts, to designing bespoke gearbox systems for various industries. Phil also assists with the management of our ISO 13485 & ISO 9001 QMS and network of approved manufacturing suppliers.

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