Engineering designers have a variety of methods at their disposal when it comes to communicating an idea (e.g., Linguistic, Pictorial, Virtual). Studies have explored how these methods affect the idea generation process, revealing that some methods can induce design fixation and reduce creativity. Moreover, studies reveal that depending on the communication methods and a receiver’s familiarity with the idea conveyed, the amount of relevant information transmitted could vary. Hence, based on previous studies, it is hypothesized that different communication methods and a receiver’s familiarity can impact a receiver’s ability to construct and interpret the information conveyed. To test this hypothesis, an experiment is conducted in which multiple methods are used to communicate different product ideas to individuals (N = 370). Participants are asked to describe the products in their own words and provide details about their functions. A text-mining approach is used to analyze the semantic structure of their responses. The results reveal that dissemination methods affect the consistency of participants’ responses, as well as the diversity of words used to describe a product idea or its functions. This knowledge can help designers in the selection of an appropriate method, given the design intention and help them leverage different methods to maximize communication effectiveness during the different stages of the design process.

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