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Design research

What’s happening in the world of ethics and design?

Set of articles, skills and tools to raise the bar.

“Design has a huge influence on how people behave and live their lives. In how we as designers aim to answer the question of how to live ‘a good life’ the act of design itself can be seen as ethical. That’s why it’s important to know about ethics and learn to incorporate it in your design work. And for that, you’re in the right place. (…) In March 2017 Jet Gispen graduated on the research for and development of this ethical toolkit for designers. Struck by the lack of ethical knowledge of most designers and design students, she set out to find a way to improve that. By means of various case studies performed at the Delft University of Technology, Jet researched ways for designers to incorporate ethics into their design process. The result of this research was this template-based toolkit.”

Jet Gispen a.k.a. /jet-gispen ~ Ethics for designers

Big data UX: Research opportunity and ethical challenge

Ethics, the new unique selling point of design.

“As the user experience professional, when the business wants to let videos wander (in other words, business leaders or other well-intentioned team members want to use the video in a way that the participant didn’t agree to), someone must serve as gatekeeper. Whenever these moments occur, our UX Cassandra role should compel us to represent not only our users’ need for great user experience, but for proper ethical handling of their participation in our experiments. Each of our new tools provide ethical challenges. We have an obligation to consider their challenges and address them as seriously as we do with our live participant studies or any of our methods.”

Josephine Scott a.k.a. @josies

UX Research is the biggest bang for the buck most companies fail to invest in

Research comes in many shapes for digital design.

“The problem I see with having a UX Designer without a UX Researcher is that as a company, you develop the illusion that you are doing enough to comprehensively assess and change the user experience in a way to get the optimal results out of your investment. And, truth be told, many UX designers do a little bit of everything highlighted in this article. But they don’t do enough. They can’t. There simply isn’t enough time in a day to both create the user experience and validate its effectiveness. Moreover, as we saw above, there’s a wide variety of techniques through which User Researchers monitor, analyze and report on user experience developments.”

Craig Tomlin a.k.a. /wcraigtomlin | @ctomlin

Grand challenges for HCI researchers

When the context changes, the challenges rise.

“The remarkable impact of human-computer interaction research and user experience design compels researchers, practitioners, and journalists to ask: What is the next big thing? Therefore, it may be useful for our community to lay out grand challenges that steer the direction of future research, design, and commercial development. As HCI researchers, we are profoundly aware of the immense problems of our age: Growing human populations consume natural resources, flourishing cities require housing and transportation, families demand education and safety, and rising expectations from patients put pressure on healthcare and social systems.”

Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant, Maxine Cohen, Steven Jacobs, Niklas Elmqvist, and Nicholoas Diakopoulos ~ ACM Interactions Magazine

Beyond the conversation: Context-fluid experiences and augmented cognition

How to frame fluidity into a design challenge.

“What we can do currently, however, is think about how to best make use of the available data acquisition methods to create context-sensitive applications for context-fluid experiences. As designers, it is our job to continue to facilitate and improve the two-way conversation between our technology and its users. Let’s work toward creating meaningful feedback loops between human and computer, thus optimizing the context-fluid experience.”

Cameron Miller a.k.a. /cameronalexandermiller | @ChancesAreCam ~ Boxes and Arrows

10 practical tips for increasing the impact of your research insights

We’re still at the level of (practical) tips, tricks, and do’s/dont’s.

“Turning research insights into positive action is a combination of what you do but also what you are able to empower others to do. Knowing your audience and bringing the right mindset to the table can go a long way to making an impact in your organization.”

Mike Katz a.k.a. /mike-katz ~ Boxes and Arrows

Cybernetics and Design: Conversations for Action

Becoming a classic for design in the new millenium.

“Working for decades as both theorist and teacher, Ranulph Glanville came to believe that cybernetics and design are two sides of the same coin. Working as both practitioners and teachers, the authors present their understanding of Glanville and the relationships between cybernetics and design. We believe cybernetics offers a foundation for 21st-century design practice.”

Hugh Dubberly a.k.a. /hughdubberly | @DubberlyDesign and Paul Pangaro a.k.a. /pangaro | @paulpangaro ~ Dubberly Design Office

UX research methods

After design validation, we need more and more design and user research methods.

“From new ideas to proven standards in user experience research, our toolkit is a rich collection of ways to understand people and context. The articles in this issue feature innovations, like new ways to explore emotional response, to unusual places to conduct research, like trains, ferries, and conferences.”

The Magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association

DesignX: Complex sociotechnical systems

The roles, values and challenges for a new generation of strategic designers.

“This paper is a follow up to DesignX, a position paper written in 2014, which introduced the design challenges of complex sociotechnical systems such as healthcare, transportation, governmental policy, and environmental protection. We conclude that the major challenges presented by DesignX problems stem not from trying to understand or address the issues, but rather arise during implementation, when political, economic, cultural, organizational, and structural problems overwhelm all else. We suggest that designers cannot stop at the design stage: they must play an active role in implementation, and develop solutions through small, incremental steps—minimizing budgets and the resources required for each step— to reduce political, social, and cultural disruptions. This approach requires tolerance for existing constraints and trade-offs, and a modularity that allows for measures that do not compromise the whole. These designs satisfice rather than optimize and are related to the technique of making progress by ‘muddling through’, a form of incrementalism championed by Lindblom.”

Donald A. Norman and Pieter Jan Stappers ~ She Ji

Paradigm Shift: Report on the New Role of Design in Business and Society

Thomas Kuhn and design in business and society.

“Corporate cultures’ prevailing attitudes towards design have begun to shift. Financial companies and management consultancies now have design teams, and include “design” in their service portfolios. Large corporations are bolstering their in-house design capabilities, and appointing designers to executive roles. Venture capitalist firms and startups increasingly recognize the value of including designers in the early stages of business development. Even global organizations and international foundations now list design on their agendas. A paradigm shift is taking place in the field of design. This study examines some of the latest corporate investments in design, and reflects on what this phenomenon means for the wider field of design. The focus of this study is on the key trend indicators that are defining the current landscape of design, and its changing role in business and society.”

Gjoko Muratovski a.k.a. /gjokomuratovski ~ She Ji

Designing education: Educating design

Design and education, how can they have been separated for soo long.

“The concept of design in not new to education. However, the act of designing as we understand it in user experience—or design thinking—is not yet mainstream in the design for teaching and learning. The pervasiveness of technology and the maturity of both user-centered design and e-learning are intertwining design and education in deeper ways. (…) Modern design approaches and philosophies are well-placed to facilitate this orchestration. Designing education and educating design is the right path to take. While the immensity of the task can feel overwhelming, we as designers can find the challenge and beauty of it by tackling it at a human-sized level. Let’s not focus on the systemic problems and policy changes needed in education but on the things that we as designers can do to enhance the teaching and learning experience. This crossroads of education and design is just the beginning.”

Muriel Garreta-Domingo a.k.a. /murielgd | @mparticulars ~ UXPA Magazine

Design ideal: Performing a dialogue between theorizing and designing

Let’s re-frame the relation between theory and practice. It’s not at all anymore about mind and hands.

“Increasingly, researchers engage with design as a means of inquiry to understand and theorize about real-world situations in a nuanced and generative manner. Doing so involves negotiating a tension between two opposing objectives. On the one hand, design is inherently concerned with addressing the problem through shaping a unique and particular solution. On the other, theorizing is increasingly desired as an outcome of a design inquiry. Or, in other words, a design inquiry needs to formulate findings that are transferable across various situations and are generative of new designs. How do design researchers negotiate the dialectic between theorizing and designing in practice?”

Naveen Bagalkot and Tomas Sokoler ~ ACM Interactions Mar/Apr 2016

Crafting a design persona

Anything you can use to stimulate your empathy.

“Crafting a design persona is an intense exercise that requires the the time and involvement of team members throughout your company. While the work may seem daunting, it is well worth it. By investing in your product’s design persona, you are investing in future advocates of your product—and creating a source of design inspiration for your team.”

(Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek a.k.a. @megak ~ A List Apart)

Good design drives shareholder value: 2014 design value index results and commentary

2015 version coming soon, because ‘the results are in’.

“The 2014 Design Value Index shows us for a second year that corporations that put an emphasis on design as a strategic asset perform significantly better than those that do not. As corporate design capabilities mature, executives are able to direct this power towards their companies’ most challenging problems. This, in turn, allows design-driven companies to grow faster, and often with higher margins, due to the exceptional customer experiences they are uniquely positioned to create. Key trends identified through this work include the rise of user-experience (UX) design as a sub-discipline whose growth is expected to outpace all other design disciplines as the number of digital interfaces expand and the significant investment in internal design capabilities under way in many large U.S. companies today, as we see from DVI companies Intuit and IBM .”

(Jeneanne Rae a.k.a. @JeneanneMRae ~ Design Management Institute)

Design and the Corporation: A reply from Darrel Rhea

It’s just a new wave of what happened before. But now with less ‘crazy designers’.

“Design isn’t just working on aesthetics or functionality, they are making contributions to strategy, they are generating new value propositions. Having design be more prominent is allowing these organizations to leverage the insights they have been gathering on customers and consumers. They are becoming institutionally empathetic.”

(Grant McCracken a.k.a. @Grant27)

Designing on a system level

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, said Arthur C. Clarke.

“Data analytics can help predict behavior. Designers need to add data analytics to their skill sets in order to create the next generation of services. Goodman discusses the magical — and sometimes creepy — effect anticipatory design possesses.”

(Mary Treseler a.k.a. @marytreseler ~ O’Reilly Radar)

Designing the connected everyday

Another design challenge emerging from technology: Design for connected experiences.

“(…) we live in a world of increased complexity, in which digital data, everyday objects, and social practices are increasingly connected and interdependent. In a world of increasing complexity, designing digital technologies that facilitate meaningful interactions and integrate elegantly in our everyday lives requires an understanding of how to design for commensurability – that is, making our ability to connect across networks commensurate with our current practices in the physical world. Designing the connected everyday is fundamentally about making things commensurate as much as it is about making them smart.”

(Elisa Giaccardi a.k.a. @elisagiaccardi ~ ACM Interactions Magazine Jan/Feb 2015)