Friday, January 05, 2007

A Hierarchy of Complexity

The first chapter from Designing Interactions ...

"This is an extract from Bill Moggridge's new book "DESIGNING INTERACTIONS", published by MIT Press in December 2006, in which he considers the scale of complexity that different types of design involve.

When I graduated from college as an industrial designer in 1965, I expected to spend my life designing mass-produced objects to be manufactured in metals and plastics.Thinking about what people want from an object was a predominant consideration for the design, but there was an assumption that the most complex aspect would be to think about the subjective and qualitative values that would help the designer to create an appropriate aesthetic, so most of the research into what people wanted was aimed at discovering those subtle values that could inform an intuitive design process. The overall complexity came from synthesizing this understanding with all of the functional attributes of the design, such as performance, assembly, manufacturing, price, distribution, marketing and so on. These constraints demanded collaboration between experts in all of the fields that make up a multidisciplinary team, but with the roles clearly understood, individuals could operate successfully in separate disciplines, as long as they were willing to work together, even though failures were often encountered in companies when communications between discipline based departments were not strong enough. Designers were expected to be fluent with anthropometrics, as that was needed for the design of objects.

Anthropometrics—the sizes of people

For the design of physical objects The constraints are complex enough to demand the core skills of design, but the problems are well understood and have been evolving slowly since industrial design emerged as a new discipline in response to the Industrial Revolution. Designers have to understand basic human factors, but it is reasonable to expect that anthropometrics, or the sizes of people, are the most relevant.Thanks to the human factors work at the office of Henry Dreyfuss, anthropometric information for the designer is easy to find, by referring to the book The Measure of Man or the reference cards in Humanscale, which present the salient dimensions of people of different statures, gender, age, and ethnic background."    (Continued via Usability News)    [Usability Resources]


Designing Interactions


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