Saturday, October 20, 2007

Design Research: From Market-Driven Era To User Centered Innovation

The state of design research today ...

"Design is in the middle of a great transformation, and the members of The Design Research Society represent over 36 countries, so I am starting this worldwide conversation by presenting a scaffold for thinking and talking about the state of design research today.

We are in the middle of massive change.

‘It’s not about the world of design. It’s about the design of the world’. (Mau et al., 2005).

The market-driven era is finally giving way to the people centered era. What this means for design and design research is that:

* people who are not educated in design are designing;

* the line between product and service is no longer clear;

* the boundaries between the design disciplines are blurring;

* the action now is in the fuzzy front end of the design development process with a focus on experiential rather than physical or material concerns;

* the action in the fuzzy front end is all about new ways to understand and to empathize with the needs and dreams of people.

So this is an exciting and a confusing time for design research. The excitement comes partly from the significant recent interest of the business community in the value of design research and design thinking. The excitement is particularly evident in the fuzzy front end of the design development process.

The buzz words being thrown around today include co-creation, innovation, Web 2.0, empathic thinking, human-centered, people-centered, user-generated and so on. Exactly what co-creation is and how it is to be done is generating a fair amount of the confusion. The various forms of applied ethnography are getting more than their share of attention and the ‘experts’ are defending their territories from those without appropriate pedigrees.

Furthermore, researchers and designers are getting into each other’s domains and misinterpreting or misapplying the other’s methods and tools for design research.

There is a big disconnect between the US and Europe with regard to design research in practice. In Europe, the academics have been leading in defining the new areas of design research. And since there is a tradition of sharing and disseminating knowledge and new ideas in academia, in Europe, the new ideas in design research are spreading in a positive way.

In the US, on the other hand, it is the practitioners who have been leading with regard to design research in practice. So in the U.S., there is exploration and innovation in design research going on, but it is not as well disseminated. It is discussed in general terms so as not to give too much away to ‘the competition’. It is not often published, though the interaction design community is doing a good job of sharing."    (Continued via Robin Good)    [Usability Resources]

Cognitive Collage - Usability, User Interface Design

Cognitive Collage


Blogger Mark Vanderbeeken said...

This article was published in September 2006 in Design Research Quarterly. You can download a copy here:

7:20 AM  

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