All posts about
Design research

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)

Why I teach theory

Without a good theory, all data can be equally usefull.

“As an educator, I’m painfully aware of the challenges of curricular design. Far and away the largest challenge in building a curriculum is fitting the quantity of material into a realistic course structure. It’s a zero-sum game; for each topic I add, I have to remove something. Design, like other professions, is going through a process of increased specialization, and that means there are more skills to learn in order to claim deep expertise. I end up agonizing over every detail, every class.”

(Jon Kolko a.k.a. @jkolko)

Why DesignX? Designers and complex systems

Progressing on the design maturity path for all designers: from wicked problems to complex systems.

“For many years, together with a number of design educators, I have been discussing how design can address the complex socio-technological systems that characterize our world. The issues are not new: many people and disciplines have grappled with them for some time. But how can design play a role? Do our educational methods, especially the emphasis upon craft, prepare designers for this? What can design add?”

(Donald A. Norman ~ Core77)

DesignX: A future path for Design

How Design can solve the wicked problems of the world.

“DesignX is a new, evidence-based approach for addressing many of the complex and serious problems facing the world today. It adds to and augments today’s design methods, reformulating the role that design can play. Modern design has grown from a focus on products and services to a robust set of methods that is applicable to a wide range of societal issues. When combined with the knowledge and expertise of specialized disciplines, these design methods provide powerful ways to develop practical approaches to large, complex issues. We seek a radical reformation of design practice, education, and research. It is time for a new era of design activism.”

(Donald A. Norman)

Is The Grid a better web designer than you?

We just have to wait for a Turing test of website designs. Was it a synapse or an algorithm?

“However, if you’re doing the job of a web designer properly, The Grid has no way to compete. No artificial intelligence will ever replace a human designer, because design is largely about emotional intelligence. Good design extends into every facet of a website, and it’s not about computers talking to each other, it’s about human beings communicating.”

(Benjie Moss a.k.a. @BenjieMoss ~ Web Designer Depot)

Designing to co-designing to collective dreaming: Three slices in time

Or how design can make the world a better place.

“Over the past 30 years, almost every aspect of doing design has changed. We still seem to be in the middle of a transition to greater entanglement and complexity, but with greater involvement of people and, hopefully, more value contributed by the design capabilities of many. We can anticipate these uncertainties with hope or fear. But if we can use design thinking, making, and enacting to visualize and explore the future together, then we will be able to harness our collective creativity to serve our collective dreams.”

(Liz Sanders and Pieter Jan Stappers ~ ACM Interactions nov/dec 2014)

An introduction to user research techniques: Ways to understand your users and their needs

Research is the foundation for design to make informed decisions.

“This guidance provides a broad overview of the methods and techniques available to conduct user research. More detailed guidance on each of these techniques can be found in the links below. User research can be categorised into 2 broad themes: product research and strategic research.”

(Gov.uk)