A wave energy converter must be designed to survive and function efficiently, often in highly energetic ocean environments. This represents a challenging engineering problem, comprising systematic failure mode analysis, environmental characterization, modeling, experimental testing, fatigue and extreme response analysis. While, when compared with other ocean systems such as ships and offshore platforms, there is relatively little experience in wave energy converter design, a great deal of recent work has been done within these various areas. This paper summarizes the general stages and workflow for wave energy converter design, relying on supporting articles to provide insight. By surveying published work on wave energy converter survival and design response analyses, this paper seeks to provide the reader with an understanding of the different components of this process and the range of methodologies that can be brought to bear. In this way, the reader is provided with a large set of tools to perform design response analyses on wave energy converters.