Expert/Rapid/Special Forces Design (was: YetAnother iPod Birth Story)

19 Oct 2006 - 7:03pm
9 years ago
1 reply
953 reads
Mark Schraad

The problem I have with the ?Genius Design? label is that the definition lumps two very different types of designers into one group based upon the fact that they may not include user research in their process.

Many designers, either because they do not know any better or do not want to extend the effort, ignore the context of use and goals/actions of the user. Consideration of the interdependencies between the user, the object being designed, any interface needed, the goals and actions taken, and the environment are what, in my opinion, define interaction design. As a very simple example, a product brochure for consumption at a trade show would read and look remarkably different than a brochure for the same product that is mailed out upon request. The context of use is different and should be a primary consideration. A large percentage of designers do not include this in their process.

A second group of designers may have extensive knowledge of context through previous research, design experience and/or an insight into benefits that the user cannot or does not grasp. This leadership position is crucial to development of break through products. Too much can be problematic as we have seen through dramatic product failures faulted only in being too far ahead of their time.

While I believe that consideration of context, along with user research are crucial tools that every designer should embrace, clearly neither are absolutely necessary. There are many, many examples of extraordinarily successful products that were designed without consideration of context or user research.

Design is a young field. We still have much to learn.

On Thursday, October 19, 2006, at 05:10PM, Dan Saffer <dan at> wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>I just want to toss out a couple of statements here about this
>conversation in general, since I have a set of wireframes due today. :)
>UCD and its methodologies arose because of the failings of "intuitive/
>expert/genius design." And indeed, our world is filled with ugly,
>graceless, poorly functioning things that were all created by people
>who felt they were designed just fine. If you are inexperienced, you
>could do worse than by talking to users and figuring out what they
>need and what the domain requires.
>The four approaches to interaction design can be used in combination,
>and in practice, usually are. I might use UCD methods for some
>things, genius design for others.
>No design work is easy. But if you remove some of a process (in this
>case research and analysis), it logically stands to reason, if
>everything else is the same, that a process that doesn't include
>research will be easier. I'm not sure why you think it would be as
>difficult or more difficult without research, Jim. It simply doesn't
>make sense, logically. Research doesn't mean doing less, it means
>doing more. Much more. Look at how many organizations balk at doing
>research for just this reason.
>I will agree that not all projects require research. It's probably a
>50/50 split in my own work. But for unfamiliar domains, user bases,
>cultures, etc. I highly recommend it as a basic method.
>I never said genius design was rare; I said the opposite, in fact:
>it's how most design is done.
>Dan Saffer, IDSA
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19 Oct 2006 - 8:51pm
Christian Crumlish

> From: mark Schraad
> Design is a young field. We still have much to learn.

Is it really? Relative to what? It may not be the world's oldest (or
second-oldest) profession, but I have trouble seeing it as young or new.

Christian Crumlish
Director of Strategic Services

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