All posts about
Design research

Teach Slower to Teach Better

But what’s the speed of learning and how to speed it up?

“Over the last decade, as a rejection to a tired model of higher education, new educational programs and structures have emerged. Many of these are in the fields of design, digital product development, and programming. The new models of education take many forms. Some are short day-long or week-long workshops. Some are meetups and brownbags. Some are online, some offline, and some hybrid. What connects many of these models is their immediate vocational emphasis. The majority intend to train practitioners, not academics. The focus is on preparing people to do design and get jobs. (…) We need educational innovation, but not at the expense of quality. Students need the space to develop problem solving strategies. Speed is not in our favor here. Let’s all slow down.”

Jon Kolko a.k.a /jkolko | @jkolko ~ modernist studio

Researcher introspection for experience-driven design research

Like with second order cybernetics, the role of the researcher in the researched system is essential.

“We challenge the unquestioning pursuit of the appearance of objectivity and ingrained designer-user dualism in human-centred design research and propose a resurrection of introspection as a valid approach to investigating subjective experiences. Through comparing epistemic perspectives and reviewing the histories of introspection in several disciplines, we liberate the research field of experience-driven design from a long-lasting doubt about and the disguised and unsystematic use of this method. To establish a foundation for the further development of introspective methods, we focus on its most controversial type (i.e. researcher introspection) and discuss its strengths and weaknesses, preconditions of use, diverse ways to practise for different suitable experience-driven design research purposes, and useful techniques and tools.”

Haian Xue and Pieter M.A.Desmet ~ Design Studies Volume 63

A novel technique for A/B testing using static prototypes

Fortunately, life is not as binary as you think.

“A/B testing is a powerful technique for evaluating the success of a specific design element, but it is not yet widely adopted among library user experience professionals. Many libraries cannot or choose not to do A/B testing on a live website for a variety of practical reasons. Appalachian State University Libraries recently piloted a variety of A/B testing that has the potential to address some of these shortcomings: a Qualtrics survey of tasks carried out on static prototype websites embedded into the survey as inline frames. The technique allowed us to capture qualitative data in the form of survey questions and link it to quantitative server data typical in live A/B tests. Prototype A/B testing allowed us to reap the benefits of A/B testing without needing to modify a production server environment. Based on our findings from a large sample of undergraduate and graduate students, we were able to justify a post-migration design choice.”

Scott Goldstein ~ Journal of Library User Experience 2.1

Agile research

Agile eats research, design and evaluation for (fast food) breakfast.

“In this paper we ask: “How might we take the ideas, the methods and the underlying philosophy behind agile software development and explore applying them in the context of doing research — even research that does not involve software development?” We look at some examples of agile research methods and think about how they might inspire the design of even better methods. We also try to address some potential criticisms of an approach that aims to minimize a need for Big Design Up Front by developing tighter iteration cycles, coupled with reflection and learning as part of a process for doing research.”

Michael Twidale and Preben Hansen ~ FirstMonday 24.1

Anthropocene Economics and Design: Heterodox Economics for Design Transitions

Design interventions for Earth System.

“Economics is a field under fierce contestation. In response to the intersecting challenges of the Anthropocene, scholars who take a broader and more critical view of current economic models have described the shortcomings of orthodox economic theory along with the severe consequences of its systemic discounting of the environment. Heterodox economists describe how the logic of neoclassical and neoliberal economics disregards the interests and needs of the natural world, women, workers, and other historically disadvantaged groups. Explorations of the household, the state, and the commons as alternative economies open space at the intersection of economics and design for incorporating and valuing the provisioning services provided by the ecological context and the undervalued work provided by certain groups of people. Design theorists, economists, social and cultural theorists, and anthropologists describe the relationship between value and values in ways that reveal how sustainable and socially just futures depend on the priorities (notions of value) embedded in the systems that determine what is designed. With these ideas, design can contribute to economic transitions with conceptualizing, modeling, mapping, framing, and other future making practices. Ecologically engaged, heterodox economics is a basis for societal responses to climate change on a scale that can make a difference.”

Joanna Boehnert a.k.a. /jodyboehnert | @Ecocene ~ She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 4.4 courtesy of @KateRaworth

UX research is essential to product success

Seeing, knowning, and understanding are just part of wisdom.

“To change the mindset of your stakeholders from being naysayers to being advocates for user research, you must help them understand how research can add value to their product and that learnings from user research are an indispensable asset to a product team.”

Apurvo Ghosh a.k.a. /apurvo-ghosh-hfi-cua™ | @Apurvo_Ghosh ~ UXmatters

Envisioning Futures of Design Education: An Exploratory Workshop with Design Educators

Rethinking design education for the 21st century, which is already almost two decades in the works.

“The demand for innovation in the creative economy has seen the adoption and adaptation of design thinking and design methods into domains outside design, such as business management, education, healthcare, and engineering. Design thinking and methodologies are now considered useful for identifying, framing and solving complex, often wicked social, technological, economic and public policy problems. As the practice of design undergoes change, design education is also expected to adjust to prepare future designers to have dramatically different demands made upon their general abilities and bases of knowledge than have design career paths from years past. Future designers will have to develop skills and be able to construct and utilize knowledge that allows them to make meaningful contributions to collaborative efforts involving experts from disciplines outside design. Exactly how future designers should be prepared to do this has sparked a good deal of conjecture and debate in the professional and academic design communities. This report proposes that the process of creating future scenarios that more broadly explore and expand the role, or roles, for design and designers in the world’s increasingly interwoven and interdependent societies can help uncover core needs and envision framework(s) for design education.”

Sapna Singh, Nicole Lotz and Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders ~ AIGA Dialectic

The role of observation in user research

User research and what you see is not what you get.

“User research consists of two core activities: observing and interviewing. Since we’re most interested in people’s behavior, observing is the most important of these activities because it provides the most accurate information about people, their tasks, and their needs. While interviewing is also very important, the information people provide during interviews isn’t always accurate or reliable. Often, research participants don’t know why they do things, what they really need, what they might do in the future, or how a design could be improved. To really understand what people do, you can’t just ask them, you have to observe them.”

Jim Ross a.k.a. /anotheruxguy | @anotheruxguy ~ UXmatters

How to recruit for user research: Tools and techniques for recruiting UX research participants

User research or user experience research?

“It’s hard to conduct user research if you don’t have anyone to research. Recruitment lets you find people that have the information you seek to learn. Recruitment is risky since the effort hinges on getting the right people in the room. There are a number of factors at play, and various methods a team can use to find the right kind of participants. Before worrying about the risks and before scheduling participants, you first must document whom you want to recruit.”

David Farkas and Brad Nunnally ~ O’Reilly Radar – Design

The evolution of UX research: A job posting analysis

The job market for UX research follows the field of UX design practice.

“Our conclusion is that these seemingly opposing trends will persist for a while due to the different levels of research maturity in the market. UX teams of one, T-shaped UX, or UX unicorns are still in demand and will continue to be so. However, in our opinion, the demand for specialized UXers will keep growing. The increased understanding of UX by big companies is translated in the definition of job postings for ‘mixed’ UX researchers or specialized quantitative or qualitative researchers. It is likely to be a slow trend in the same way that UX took awhile to reach companies. However, and luckily, the future looks bright for anyone wishing to work in UX research.”

Muriel Garreta-Domingo a.k.a. @mparticulars and Alberto González Mosquera a.k.a. @Agonzalezmosq ~ UXPA Magazine

Ten questions to designer Kees Dorst

Design thinker provides a context of (digital) design.

“It’s no news that the world is changing and it is changing fast. And change demands what designer Kees Dorst says to be a need to step back from old values so that we can create a new order. And it’s in this process that designers have a key role to play. At our Master’s programme’s headquarters, Dorst explained his theory in design framing and new thinking to an audience of students, professionals, and lecturers. After the event, Ben Schouten, scientific director of the Master’s programme in Digital Design, sat down with Kees Dorst to hear more about his thoughts on the designer of the future.”

Master Digital Design (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences)

The concept of the design discipline

The design discipline and the design practice, how are they in sync?

“In their previous work, the authors have demonstrated that the discipline of design has been superseded by a condition where conventionally set design disciplines have dissolved. In this age where design is typified by fluid, evolving patterns of practice that regularly traverse, transcend and transfigure historical disciplinary and conceptual boundaries, the authors have argued that globalization and the proliferation of the digital has resulted in connections that are no longer ‘amid,’ cannot be measured ‘across,’ nor encompass a ‘whole’ system. In short, this ‘disciplinary turn’ has generated an ‘other’ dimension—an alternative disciplinarity. Moreover, this reliance on the ‘exhausted’ historic disciplines has become obsolete as the boundaries of our understanding have been superseded by a boundless space/time that we call ‘alter-plinarity.’ The fragmentation of distinct disciplines has shifted creative practice from being ‘discipline-based’ to ‘issue- or project-based.’ Consequently, this paper presents a manifesto for the future design discipline that emphasizes disposing carefully of what you know, teaching what you do not know whilst always taking design seriously, protecting us from what we want, objecting to sustaining everything, designing without reproach, ensuring that objects are invisible but designed with care and within history whilst exploring design as an idea rather than an ideal.”

Paul A. Rogers and Craig Bremner ~ AIGA Dialectic

How to use UX research to guide an Agile Process

Pace layers in sync: research and sprints. I hope it will actually work.

“The key idea is to ensure that every action taken during the Agile process is aligned with the sprint objective and with solving a specific problem for the user. UX research is also there to continually evaluate and assess whether the outcome that the team has produced is successful. By implementing this strategy, you’ll have UX research embedded from the beginning to the end of the Agile process and empower your team to solve user problems with more alignment and feedback on their work’s impact.”

LaiYee Ho a.k.a. @laiyeelori ~ UXPA Magazine

Connecting things: Broadening design to include systems, platforms, and product-service ecologies

Broadening the design scope leads to increase of complexity.

“Traditionally, design practice and design education have focused on giving form to physical things—apparel, buildings, messages, tools, and vehicles—the artifacts that constitute material culture. These artifacts are also the material of the traditional design disciplines—apparel design, architecture, graphic design, product design, and transportation design.”

Hugh Dubberly a.k.a. /hughdubberly ~ Dubberly Design Office courtesy of @freegorifero

The Systemic Turn: Leverage for World Changing

Introduction to several deep thinking articles on the role, value and transformation of design related to ‘wicked problems’ a.k.a. grand design challenges. As discussed during RSD5 (2017).

“Both systems thinking and contemporary design practices are insufficient, on their own, to transform the complex continuous problems our institutions have sustained through a rapidly morphing modernism. Leading practitioners in both core disciplines have quite similar motivations for envisioned outcomes in the world. This is clear in projects developed in flourishing communities and organizations, effective human-centered health practices, fully functioning democratic governance, citizen-centered cities and services, and so on. Practice-led research and reflective practice have taught many of us that the silver bullets of recent design ideas, such as multidisciplinarity and human-centricity, are also insufficient to the complexity and scale of these tasks. Systemics lends design thinking an explanatory theory that integrates principles with the power tools of disciplined method. Design lends systems thinking the pragmatic applications of integration, the transformation of human activity, and the surprising power of observing human experience in design research.”

Peter Jones a.k.a. /peterhjones” | @redesign ~ She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 3.3

Then and Now: The Bauhaus and 21st century design

The historical perspective on the Design dimension. The manifesto for a digital Bauhaus (Ehn, 1998) included?

“Design can address the critical problems of our age. The Bauhaus movement was of great historical importance. Today, we need more. Aristotle is considered of as one of the forerunners of the scientific movement, even as his actual words and writings of science and technology are completely ignored by today’s working scientists. That is how I feel about the Bauhaus movement: I am grateful for what it accomplished, but I do not find it relevant to the complex issues we face today.”

Donald A. Norman a.k.a. /donnorman | @jnd1er

Stewardship in the Age of Algorithms

Some deep thinking going on here. Be aware of the algo’s.

“This paper explores pragmatic approaches that might be employed to document the behavior of large, complex socio-technical systems (often today shorthanded as ‘algorithms’) that centrally involve some mixture of personalization, opaque rules, and machine learning components. Thinking rooted in traditional archival methodology (…) has been a total failure for many reasons, and we must address this problem. (…) It may well be that we see the emergence of a new group of creators of documentation, perhaps predominantly social scientists and humanists, taking the front lines in dealing with the Age of Algorithms, with their materials then destined for our memory organizations to be cared for into the future.”

Clifford Lynch ~ First Monday (22.12)

Design Research at the crossroads of education and practice

Deep thinking into one of the wicked problems of design research in academia and in practice.

“This paper takes an experiential perspective in describing the current situation in design education and design practice as seen through the eyes of someone on the ground at the crosshairs between research and design in education and practice. The current situation is marked by the fact that practice leads education in the integration of research with design. The integration is going well. The biggest challenges are the incompatibilities between how design research is done in practice and how research takes place at the university.”

Elizabeth B.N. Sanders a.k.a. /sandersliz ~ She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 3.1

Computational design

Thinking, designing and doing with, by and for computers.

“Computational thinking refers to a deliberative process that finds a computational solution for a concern. Computational doing refers to use of computation and computational tools to address concerns. Computational design refers to creating new computational tools and methods that are adopted by the members of a community to address their concerns. Unfortunately, the definitions of both “thinking” and “doing” are fuzzy and have allowed misconceptions about the nature of algorithms. Fortunately, it is possible to eliminate the fuzziness in the definitions by focusing on computational design, which is at the intersection between thinking and doing. Computational design is what we are really after and would be a good substitute for computational thinking and doing. (…) Computational design is where the power of the computing revolution is showing up. Computational design is what we are really after and would be a good substitute for computational thinking and doing.”

Peter J. Denning a.k.a. /peter-denning ~ Ubiquity (August 2017)