Expert/Rapid/Special Forces Design

19 Oct 2006 - 10:31pm
7 years ago
10 replies
536 reads
Mark Schraad
2006

>
>> 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

I think of design as a young profession not in terms of time, but in
terms of maturity.

When thinking of mature professions, things that come to mind are:

Lots of PhD's in academic settings.
Strong professional organizations
General agreement on definitions amongst practitioners
A steady stream of research that consistently advances the profession
Wide public awareness and recognition of the professions contributions

Design is only beginning to reflect these things. Did anyone call
themselves a designer just a hundred years ago? How about a lawyer,
politician, baker, fisherman, farmer, doctor, soldier, blacksmith,
play write, musician, etc...

That is why I see design as a young profession. With that comes great
promise - and that is a good thing.

Mark

Comments

22 Oct 2006 - 5:14pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

> UCD and its methodologies arose because of the failings of
"intuitive/expert/genius design."

I think this statement says a lot about the fallacy of
oversimplification behind the term, "genius design." Not to mention
"intuitive," or let alone, "expert."

If a person is truly a genius, (as opposed to the term being used in
a sneering, derogatory, and pejorative context), and there is a
methodology behind the approach (which any actual experienced expert
would employ), albeit one different from what UCD advocates, then it
wouldn't produce a field mostly consisting of failures. I know of no
exahaustive, serious study of the many methods and experiences *of
the full range* of people using non-UCD types of approaches to
interaction design. So instead, we have these assertions about a
overly-broad strawman category.

Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled "genius
design" would be better. As it's currently being defined, it would
probably be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled, untalented
design," since that's exactly what's going to produce failure.

There are plenty, PLENTY, of failures all around us. Many
corporations do indeed pursue research. UCD methodologies are not
new. What's incredibly objectionable in this polemic approach by UCD
advocates, is that designing in any other approach is a folly, or
"has produced many failures." Just a few token, and relatively
unexamined examples are held up to underscore the assertion that
intuition or experience is a doomed or merely egotistical approach.

There are many examples of failure of design that do involve
research. And it happens at different levels. An otherwise even
successful design, arrived at by any method, might still fail because
what was really needed was a larger scale of innovation, rather than
just a fix or refinement to an existing product, system, or service.
So there's plenty of failure to go around.

The problem is that more and more pundits are now claiming that only
academically-approved research methods are capable of producing the
best design results. This is merely an assertion.

I'd argue very strongly, and from a long history of experience, that
engineers kludging together products, or products, systems and
services being feature-bloated by marketing departments is in no way
whatsoever, "genius" or representative of skilled and experienced
interaction designers employing expert, rapid, special forces, or
agile approaches. The term "genius," as used in "genius design" is
used in a completely meaningless way.

An actual expert interaction designer or architect would have a
history of smaller lessons and successes (and failures, hopefully non-
catastrophic ones) in their past. There's a huge range of situations
where such experience can produce, without great amounts of research,
excellent results. This is why I suggest that a legitimate and
wholly-underdiscussed, under-represented, and often outright
mischaracterized approach to design - one of craftsmanship and expert
experience and judgement - is sadly and inexcusably overlooked in
these highly judgemental views coming from the research and academic
community, and championed by some consultants.

By repeating offensive claims that designing without UCD methodolgies
is easier, much of a different type of hard work and difficult time-
sensitive decisions are undervalued.

Again, I'm not assailing UCD. I'm imploring UCD and other methodolgy
advocates to be careful about how they oversimplify, mischaracterize,
and otherwise fail a valid and important sector of the Interaction
Design community.

It's particularly interesting that claims are made that UCD arose in
reaction to design failures. I would say that it arose because doing
expert design is difficult, not inherently impossible or a
"pernicious folly." It's interesting that in the vacuum that existed
because many successful examples were not adequately known or
publicized, that the organized academic and research communities set
about spending the decade of the 1990s pretending that there never
was much success other than through their methods, that they would
advocate in order to "save" the discipline.

There's an entire untold story out there, involving many successful
design efforts using expert, intuitive, special forces, and agile
approaches.

In mountain climbing there are traditional methods, which involve a
large-scale and organized assault of a major peak with multiple
camps, armies of porters, and fixed lines. But there are others like
Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, who were the first to climb all
fourteen of the world's 8,000 meter peaks "Alpine Style," (without
supplemental oxygen or fixed ropes). They were not "geniuses." They
were skilled, fit, experienced, and practiced a different philosophy
and approach.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Messner

The discipline of Interaction Design is indeed a young one. I
personally approach it as I was trained, as an industrial designer
and through my study of the history of architecture. There are
thousands and thousands of projects out there that could use
experienced and expert approaches that can't afford or don't have the
resources or time for many approaches or methodologies most often
discussed. These are excellent targets for Expert Design. Or "Agile
Design," a term which I also like, and that I'm glad someone on this
list offered up.

I really don't care that much about labels, except when they're used
to divide and discredit alternative approaches.

Expert, Special Forces, Skunkworks, Intuitive, or Agile methods of
design are *NOT* the enemy.

They are just as valid and just as deserving of the amount of study
and examination as other methods. They have been smeared by a broad
and oversimplistic brush for far too many years.

Jim

James Leftwich, IDSA
Orbit Interaction
Palo Alto, California USA
http://www.orbitnet.com

22 Oct 2006 - 6:54pm
Scott Bower
2006

UCD, seems to me at least, the mantra of academics and some in
SIGCHI/Human Factors who have, for some reason, taken a defensive
posture. Design, and it's methodologies, is the realization of many
different fields of research and study. Anyone that studies design
history, particularly Industrial Design in the USA, can understand that
UCD is but one approach to countless others that Dan didn't even touch
on. Of course, I do not need to point that out to the people in IxDA.
Just because an approach fails to materialize (for whatever success
metric is used) in the market doesn't make it any less worthy. In fact,
a world without art, experimentation, and failure would be a place
without any type of design. UCD has been put on a pedestal and it is
definitely the method of choice for systems that have a high degree of
complexity and zero tolerance for failure by the insertion of human
interactions. I can say with confidence that R+D firms I have recently
visited that are on the bleeding edge and have been using UCD to the
exclusion of other methods are getting "washed out" solutions. As a
result, they are increasingly contracting designer/artists taught by
the likes of Golan Levin (those types are not on this list) to find
innovation. I have alot of respect for organizations like the Eyebeam
Openlab who value the idea of creativity.

UCD is not the best approach for breakthroughs in interactive
information design and I believe the biggest stakeholders in UCD would
agree. The breakthroughs in design going back the last 100 years were a
result of good design solutions sometimes sold under the guise of UCD
("See, there will be less lawsuits with this new design based on these
tests") in order to sell it to the decision makers. I don't think I
have ever worked on a project where a stake was thrown into the ground
and one particular method was used to the exclusion of others. But
sometimes breakthroughs are not what is needed and it is refreshing to
see that in the US Healthcare system the concept of UCD is finally
taking hold. Patient Centered Design.

It is unfortunate that Design schools, in the States at least, are
failing to adequately educate designers and that a term like "Genius
Design" or whatever we call it ("Creativity based on research"?) even
has to exist. I do like the fact that it is controversial, that is
exactly the kind of shake up the education community at large needs.

scott

On Oct 22, 2006, at 6:14 PM, James Leftwich, IDSA wrote:

> What's incredibly objectionable in this polemic approach by UCD
> advocates, is that designing in any other approach is a folly, or
> "has produced many failures." Just a few token, and relatively
> unexamined examples are held up to underscore the assertion that
> intuition or experience is a doomed or merely egotistical approach.

22 Oct 2006 - 7:30pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I can argue both side of this - but I think some of your claims here
are skewed.

Successful products are to some degree a matter of relative value and
effectiveness. 50 years ago design research was unheard of. So of
course there were many product produced without the aid of research
that were successful. They were the de-facto and often "good enough"
or the best available.

As psychology advance so then did market research. As applied to
product design these methods were less than adequate. Surveys and
such do not reveal much about the why - only the what. Quantitative
research often provides only indicators, not conclusive direction.
When conjoint analysis was developed as a method of measuring utility
allowing designers to determine a value that equated to price as well
as data for evaluating the mix of features and benefits. Since
Marriot used conjoint exclusively to design the Courtyard model they
have dominated the profitable end of that industry.

Design research on the front end using ethnography has revealed
previously untapped opportunities. Admittedly there have been
failures, but this is a young and evolving process. As the
reliability increases, and it will, the sureness of interpretation
will provide better and more reliable direction. As a designer I will
always make use of any data available, and will encourage companies
and clients I work with to gather as much as is possible.

All of that being said, there is little doubt that there will
continue to be exceptionally enlightened individuals with the
potential to design well beyond the rear view methodologies of
research. Predicting the future is not likely to be a reliable
process in design.

There is an art to the long view (pardon the blatant rip off) and
exceptional vision will always be worth gold.

Onward and upward. Excellent discussion.

Mark

On Oct 22, 2006, at 6:14 PM, James Leftwich, IDSA wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
>> UCD and its methodologies arose because of the failings of
> "intuitive/expert/genius design."
>
>
> I think this statement says a lot about the fallacy of
> oversimplification behind the term, "genius design." Not to mention
> "intuitive," or let alone, "expert."
>
> If a person is truly a genius, (as opposed to the term being used in
> a sneering, derogatory, and pejorative context), and there is a
> methodology behind the approach (which any actual experienced expert
> would employ), albeit one different from what UCD advocates, then it
> wouldn't produce a field mostly consisting of failures. I know of no
> exahaustive, serious study of the many methods and experiences *of
> the full range* of people using non-UCD types of approaches to
> interaction design. So instead, we have these assertions about a
> overly-broad strawman category.
>
> Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled "genius
> design" would be better. As it's currently being defined, it would
> probably be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled, untalented
> design," since that's exactly what's going to produce failure.
>
> There are plenty, PLENTY, of failures all around us. Many
> corporations do indeed pursue research. UCD methodologies are not
> new. What's incredibly objectionable in this polemic approach by UCD
> advocates, is that designing in any other approach is a folly, or
> "has produced many failures." Just a few token, and relatively
> unexamined examples are held up to underscore the assertion that
> intuition or experience is a doomed or merely egotistical approach.
>
> There are many examples of failure of design that do involve
> research. And it happens at different levels. An otherwise even
> successful design, arrived at by any method, might still fail because
> what was really needed was a larger scale of innovation, rather than
> just a fix or refinement to an existing product, system, or service.
> So there's plenty of failure to go around.
>
> The problem is that more and more pundits are now claiming that only
> academically-approved research methods are capable of producing the
> best design results. This is merely an assertion.
>
> I'd argue very strongly, and from a long history of experience, that
> engineers kludging together products, or products, systems and
> services being feature-bloated by marketing departments is in no way
> whatsoever, "genius" or representative of skilled and experienced
> interaction designers employing expert, rapid, special forces, or
> agile approaches. The term "genius," as used in "genius design" is
> used in a completely meaningless way.
>
> An actual expert interaction designer or architect would have a
> history of smaller lessons and successes (and failures, hopefully non-
> catastrophic ones) in their past. There's a huge range of situations
> where such experience can produce, without great amounts of research,
> excellent results. This is why I suggest that a legitimate and
> wholly-underdiscussed, under-represented, and often outright
> mischaracterized approach to design - one of craftsmanship and expert
> experience and judgement - is sadly and inexcusably overlooked in
> these highly judgemental views coming from the research and academic
> community, and championed by some consultants.
>
> By repeating offensive claims that designing without UCD methodolgies
> is easier, much of a different type of hard work and difficult time-
> sensitive decisions are undervalued.
>
> Again, I'm not assailing UCD. I'm imploring UCD and other methodolgy
> advocates to be careful about how they oversimplify, mischaracterize,
> and otherwise fail a valid and important sector of the Interaction
> Design community.
>
> It's particularly interesting that claims are made that UCD arose in
> reaction to design failures. I would say that it arose because doing
> expert design is difficult, not inherently impossible or a
> "pernicious folly." It's interesting that in the vacuum that existed
> because many successful examples were not adequately known or
> publicized, that the organized academic and research communities set
> about spending the decade of the 1990s pretending that there never
> was much success other than through their methods, that they would
> advocate in order to "save" the discipline.
>
> There's an entire untold story out there, involving many successful
> design efforts using expert, intuitive, special forces, and agile
> approaches.
>
> In mountain climbing there are traditional methods, which involve a
> large-scale and organized assault of a major peak with multiple
> camps, armies of porters, and fixed lines. But there are others like
> Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, who were the first to climb all
> fourteen of the world's 8,000 meter peaks "Alpine Style," (without
> supplemental oxygen or fixed ropes). They were not "geniuses." They
> were skilled, fit, experienced, and practiced a different philosophy
> and approach.
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Messner
>
> The discipline of Interaction Design is indeed a young one. I
> personally approach it as I was trained, as an industrial designer
> and through my study of the history of architecture. There are
> thousands and thousands of projects out there that could use
> experienced and expert approaches that can't afford or don't have the
> resources or time for many approaches or methodologies most often
> discussed. These are excellent targets for Expert Design. Or "Agile
> Design," a term which I also like, and that I'm glad someone on this
> list offered up.
>
> I really don't care that much about labels, except when they're used
> to divide and discredit alternative approaches.
>
> Expert, Special Forces, Skunkworks, Intuitive, or Agile methods of
> design are *NOT* the enemy.
>
> They are just as valid and just as deserving of the amount of study
> and examination as other methods. They have been smeared by a broad
> and oversimplistic brush for far too many years.
>
> Jim
>
> James Leftwich, IDSA
> Orbit Interaction
> Palo Alto, California USA
> http://www.orbitnet.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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22 Oct 2006 - 8:39pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

On 10/22/06, James Leftwich, IDSA <jleft at orbitnet.com> wrote:

"Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled "genius design"
would be better. As it's currently being defined, it would probably be
better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled, untalented design," since that's
exactly what's going to produce failure."

In any design process there are at least two important parts: information
about future use of the product, and then there is creation part. Quality
information facilitates, but does not guarantee brilliant final creation. On
the other hand, poor information will most probably impede creation of
useful, good designs.

"Misinformed", and occasionally "uninformed design" would be better labels
for *failed* "genius design" to distinguish it from "UCD", reflecting the
fact that significant part of UCD process is gathering information about the
future use.

The information can be accumulated via UCD research or via extensive
personal ("expert") experience in the field. Creation, on the other hand, is
driven by specific individuals.

Since creation part depends on personal abilities, the value of individual
"expert design" can be enhanced, but cannot be replaced by information
provided by UCD research. Thus "untalented design" is always a possibility.
However one can find "untalented" designs created either via user-centered
or via less-obviously-user centered process.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

>
> > UCD and its methodologies arose because of the failings of
> "intuitive/expert/genius design."
>
>
> I think this statement says a lot about the fallacy of
> oversimplification behind the term, "genius design." Not to mention
> "intuitive," or let alone, "expert."
>
> If a person is truly a genius, (as opposed to the term being used in
> a sneering, derogatory, and pejorative context), and there is a
> methodology behind the approach (which any actual experienced expert
> would employ), albeit one different from what UCD advocates, then it
> wouldn't produce a field mostly consisting of failures. I know of no
> exahaustive, serious study of the many methods and experiences *of
> the full range* of people using non-UCD types of approaches to
> interaction design. So instead, we have these assertions about a
> overly-broad strawman category.
>
> Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled "genius
> design" would be better. As it's currently being defined, it would
> probably be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled, untalented
> design," since that's exactly what's going to produce failure.
>
> There are plenty, PLENTY, of failures all around us. Many
> corporations do indeed pursue research. UCD methodologies are not
> new. What's incredibly objectionable in this polemic approach by UCD
> advocates, is that designing in any other approach is a folly, or
> "has produced many failures." Just a few token, and relatively
> unexamined examples are held up to underscore the assertion that
> intuition or experience is a doomed or merely egotistical approach.
>
> There are many examples of failure of design that do involve
> research. And it happens at different levels. An otherwise even
> successful design, arrived at by any method, might still fail because
> what was really needed was a larger scale of innovation, rather than
> just a fix or refinement to an existing product, system, or service.
> So there's plenty of failure to go around.
>
> The problem is that more and more pundits are now claiming that only
> academically-approved research methods are capable of producing the
> best design results. This is merely an assertion.
>
> I'd argue very strongly, and from a long history of experience, that
> engineers kludging together products, or products, systems and
> services being feature-bloated by marketing departments is in no way
> whatsoever, "genius" or representative of skilled and experienced
> interaction designers employing expert, rapid, special forces, or
> agile approaches. The term "genius," as used in "genius design" is
> used in a completely meaningless way.
>
> An actual expert interaction designer or architect would have a
> history of smaller lessons and successes (and failures, hopefully non-
> catastrophic ones) in their past. There's a huge range of situations
> where such experience can produce, without great amounts of research,
> excellent results. This is why I suggest that a legitimate and
> wholly-underdiscussed, under-represented, and often outright
> mischaracterized approach to design - one of craftsmanship and expert
> experience and judgement - is sadly and inexcusably overlooked in
> these highly judgemental views coming from the research and academic
> community, and championed by some consultants.
>
> By repeating offensive claims that designing without UCD methodolgies
> is easier, much of a different type of hard work and difficult time-
> sensitive decisions are undervalued.
>
> Again, I'm not assailing UCD. I'm imploring UCD and other methodolgy
> advocates to be careful about how they oversimplify, mischaracterize,
> and otherwise fail a valid and important sector of the Interaction
> Design community.
>
> It's particularly interesting that claims are made that UCD arose in
> reaction to design failures. I would say that it arose because doing
> expert design is difficult, not inherently impossible or a
> "pernicious folly." It's interesting that in the vacuum that existed
> because many successful examples were not adequately known or
> publicized, that the organized academic and research communities set
> about spending the decade of the 1990s pretending that there never
> was much success other than through their methods, that they would
> advocate in order to "save" the discipline.
>
> There's an entire untold story out there, involving many successful
> design efforts using expert, intuitive, special forces, and agile
> approaches.
>
> In mountain climbing there are traditional methods, which involve a
> large-scale and organized assault of a major peak with multiple
> camps, armies of porters, and fixed lines. But there are others like
> Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, who were the first to climb all
> fourteen of the world's 8,000 meter peaks "Alpine Style," (without
> supplemental oxygen or fixed ropes). They were not "geniuses." They
> were skilled, fit, experienced, and practiced a different philosophy
> and approach.
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Messner
>
> The discipline of Interaction Design is indeed a young one. I
> personally approach it as I was trained, as an industrial designer
> and through my study of the history of architecture. There are
> thousands and thousands of projects out there that could use
> experienced and expert approaches that can't afford or don't have the
> resources or time for many approaches or methodologies most often
> discussed. These are excellent targets for Expert Design. Or "Agile
> Design," a term which I also like, and that I'm glad someone on this
> list offered up.
>
> I really don't care that much about labels, except when they're used
> to divide and discredit alternative approaches.
>
> Expert, Special Forces, Skunkworks, Intuitive, or Agile methods of
> design are *NOT* the enemy.
>
> They are just as valid and just as deserving of the amount of study
> and examination as other methods. They have been smeared by a broad
> and oversimplistic brush for far too many years.
>
> Jim
>
> James Leftwich, IDSA
> Orbit Interaction
> Palo Alto, California USA
> http://www.orbitnet.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

22 Oct 2006 - 8:54pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

There you go...
Four design categories:

1. informed + talented => successful UCD, successful genius
2. informed + untalented => failed UCD
3. misinformed + talented => failed genius
4. misinformed + untalented => failed "genius"

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 10/22/06, Oleh Kovalchuke <tangospring at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 10/22/06, James Leftwich, IDSA <jleft at orbitnet.com> wrote:
>
> "Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled "genius
> design" would be better. As it's currently being defined, it would probably
> be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled, untalented design," since
> that's exactly what's going to produce failure."
>
> In any design process there are at least two important parts: information
> about future use of the product, and then there is creation part. Quality
> information facilitates, but does not guarantee brilliant final creation. On
> the other hand, poor information will most probably impede creation of
> useful, good designs.
>
> "Misinformed", and occasionally "uninformed design" would be better labels
> for *failed* "genius design" to distinguish it from "UCD", reflecting the
> fact that significant part of UCD process is gathering information about the
> future use.
>
> The information can be accumulated via UCD research or via extensive
> personal ("expert") experience in the field. Creation, on the other hand, is
> driven by specific individuals.
>
> Since creation part depends on personal abilities, the value of individual
> "expert design" can be enhanced, but cannot be replaced by information
> provided by UCD research. Thus "untalented design" is always a possibility.
> However one can find "untalented" designs created either via user-centered
> or via less-obviously-user centered process.
>
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
> Interaction Design is Design of Time
> http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
>
>
>
>
> >
> > > UCD and its methodologies arose because of the failings of
> > "intuitive/expert/genius design."
> >
> >
> > I think this statement says a lot about the fallacy of
> > oversimplification behind the term, "genius design." Not to mention
> > "intuitive," or let alone, "expert."
> >
> > If a person is truly a genius, (as opposed to the term being used in
> > a sneering, derogatory, and pejorative context), and there is a
> > methodology behind the approach (which any actual experienced expert
> > would employ), albeit one different from what UCD advocates, then it
> > wouldn't produce a field mostly consisting of failures. I know of no
> > exahaustive, serious study of the many methods and experiences *of
> > the full range* of people using non-UCD types of approaches to
> > interaction design. So instead, we have these assertions about a
> > overly-broad strawman category.
> >
> > Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled "genius
> > design" would be better. As it's currently being defined, it would
> > probably be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled, untalented
> > design," since that's exactly what's going to produce failure.
> >
> > There are plenty, PLENTY, of failures all around us. Many
> > corporations do indeed pursue research. UCD methodologies are not
> > new. What's incredibly objectionable in this polemic approach by UCD
> > advocates, is that designing in any other approach is a folly, or
> > "has produced many failures." Just a few token, and relatively
> > unexamined examples are held up to underscore the assertion that
> > intuition or experience is a doomed or merely egotistical approach.
> >
> > There are many examples of failure of design that do involve
> > research. And it happens at different levels. An otherwise even
> > successful design, arrived at by any method, might still fail because
> > what was really needed was a larger scale of innovation, rather than
> > just a fix or refinement to an existing product, system, or service.
> > So there's plenty of failure to go around.
> >
> > The problem is that more and more pundits are now claiming that only
> > academically-approved research methods are capable of producing the
> > best design results. This is merely an assertion.
> >
> > I'd argue very strongly, and from a long history of experience, that
> > engineers kludging together products, or products, systems and
> > services being feature-bloated by marketing departments is in no way
> > whatsoever, "genius" or representative of skilled and experienced
> > interaction designers employing expert, rapid, special forces, or
> > agile approaches. The term "genius," as used in "genius design" is
> > used in a completely meaningless way.
> >
> > An actual expert interaction designer or architect would have a
> > history of smaller lessons and successes (and failures, hopefully non-
> > catastrophic ones) in their past. There's a huge range of situations
> > where such experience can produce, without great amounts of research,
> > excellent results. This is why I suggest that a legitimate and
> > wholly-underdiscussed, under-represented, and often outright
> > mischaracterized approach to design - one of craftsmanship and expert
> > experience and judgement - is sadly and inexcusably overlooked in
> > these highly judgemental views coming from the research and academic
> > community, and championed by some consultants.
> >
> > By repeating offensive claims that designing without UCD methodolgies
> > is easier, much of a different type of hard work and difficult time-
> > sensitive decisions are undervalued.
> >
> > Again, I'm not assailing UCD. I'm imploring UCD and other methodolgy
> > advocates to be careful about how they oversimplify, mischaracterize,
> > and otherwise fail a valid and important sector of the Interaction
> > Design community.
> >
> > It's particularly interesting that claims are made that UCD arose in
> > reaction to design failures. I would say that it arose because doing
> > expert design is difficult, not inherently impossible or a
> > "pernicious folly." It's interesting that in the vacuum that existed
> > because many successful examples were not adequately known or
> > publicized, that the organized academic and research communities set
> > about spending the decade of the 1990s pretending that there never
> > was much success other than through their methods, that they would
> > advocate in order to "save" the discipline.
> >
> > There's an entire untold story out there, involving many successful
> > design efforts using expert, intuitive, special forces, and agile
> > approaches.
> >
> > In mountain climbing there are traditional methods, which involve a
> > large-scale and organized assault of a major peak with multiple
> > camps, armies of porters, and fixed lines. But there are others like
> > Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, who were the first to climb all
> > fourteen of the world's 8,000 meter peaks "Alpine Style," (without
> > supplemental oxygen or fixed ropes). They were not "geniuses." They
> > were skilled, fit, experienced, and practiced a different philosophy
> > and approach.
> >
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Messner
> >
> > The discipline of Interaction Design is indeed a young one. I
> > personally approach it as I was trained, as an industrial designer
> > and through my study of the history of architecture. There are
> > thousands and thousands of projects out there that could use
> > experienced and expert approaches that can't afford or don't have the
> > resources or time for many approaches or methodologies most often
> > discussed. These are excellent targets for Expert Design. Or "Agile
> > Design," a term which I also like, and that I'm glad someone on this
> > list offered up.
> >
> > I really don't care that much about labels, except when they're used
> > to divide and discredit alternative approaches.
> >
> > Expert, Special Forces, Skunkworks, Intuitive, or Agile methods of
> > design are *NOT* the enemy.
> >
> > They are just as valid and just as deserving of the amount of study
> > and examination as other methods. They have been smeared by a broad
> > and oversimplistic brush for far too many years.
> >
> > Jim
> >
> > James Leftwich, IDSA
> > Orbit Interaction
> > Palo Alto, California USA
> > http://www.orbitnet.com
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
>
>
>

22 Oct 2006 - 11:18pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

I think our only possible point of divergence here would be what
constitutes "being informed." Many projects and domains have well-
understood functionality, technology, and existing usage models. An
expert will always be constantly searching out new information,
insights, and patterns in the field(s) in which they design, as well
as peripheral or adjacent, and even distant fields.

Much design success can be gained by understanding patterns,
interactional syntaxes, and being able to innovate past existing
systems.

Experienced generalists can drop in, size up a situation, learn
specific information in a number of rapid, ad-hoc ways, and not
always, but often see some fairly obvious potential patterns.

Your simplistic and bivalent model of informed/misinformed just fails
to map the complex topology of reality in the vast product develoment
world.

But in the spirit of searching for common ground, I do agree that a
mix is good. My primary point is that the real world does not often
afford the time, resources, and ability to do both *full* design and
implementation of really complex systems *and* sometimes even a
rudimentary research phase.

Twenty years ago, I was often working on projects that lasted a year
or year and a half. Over the past two decades I've witnessed the
development cycle times decrease to two months in many cases. We're
talking two months of 12-14/7 schedules - just to lay out a major
interactional architecture, flows, iterative modeling, and graphical
resources. Perhaps one could use those other ten hours to conduct
research, but I think many would consider sleeping and eating to be a
good thing as well.

This is reality in the special forces trenches out there. Product
startups, mobile device software development, etc..

Again, nobody is saying research is not good. But understand that
there are many other tricks, processes, strategies, and know-how
involved in designing when it just has to be done.

And great successes can be attained, and they're not flukes. The
being informed often comes from familiarity within the domain, or
rapidly assessing what's known by a client's marketing team, or by
quickly brainstorming amongst a number of stakeholders.

It's a mischaracterization to consider rapid or expert design to be
conducted in a state of ignorance or being misinformed.

I'm glad that we're having this dialog. I firmly believe that the
vast majority of our debate stems from difficulties in terminologies
and assumptions about what's meant by what terms and descriptions.
But I also know that there are number of skills and approaches that
are *never* mentioned, discussed, or taken seriously in the
discipline as necessary and valuable alternatives for the world's
current design needs.

Jim

James Leftwich, IDSA
Orbit Interaction
Palo Alto, California 94301
USA
http://www.orbitnet.com

On Oct 22, 2006, at 6:54 PM, Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:

> There you go...
> Four design categories:
> informed + talented => successful UCD, successful genius
> informed + untalented => failed UCD
> misinformed + talented => failed genius
> misinformed + untalented => failed "genius"
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
> Interaction Design is Design of Time
> http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
>
>
> On 10/22/06, Oleh Kovalchuke <tangospring at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 10/22/06, James Leftwich, IDSA <jleft at orbitnet.com > wrote:
> "Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled
> "genius design" would be better. As it's currently being defined,
> it would probably be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled,
> untalented design," since that's exactly what's going to produce
> failure."
> In any design process there are at least two important parts:
> information about future use of the product, and then there is
> creation part. Quality information facilitates, but does not
> guarantee brilliant final creation. On the other hand, poor
> information will most probably impede creation of useful, good
> designs.
>
> "Misinformed", and occasionally "uninformed design" would be better
> labels for failed "genius design" to distinguish it from "UCD",
> reflecting the fact that significant part of UCD process is
> gathering information about the future use.
>
> The information can be accumulated via UCD research or via
> extensive personal ("expert") experience in the field. Creation, on
> the other hand, is driven by specific individuals.
>
> Since creation part depends on personal abilities, the value of
> individual "expert design" can be enhanced, but cannot be replaced
> by information provided by UCD research. Thus "untalented design"
> is always a possibility. However one can find "untalented" designs
> created either via user-centered or via less-obviously-user
> centered process.
>
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
> Interaction Design is Design of Time
> http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
>
>
>
>
> > UCD and its methodologies arose because of the failings of
> "intuitive/expert/genius design."
>
>
> I think this statement says a lot about the fallacy of
> oversimplification behind the term, "genius design." Not to mention
> "intuitive," or let alone, "expert."
>
> If a person is truly a genius, (as opposed to the term being used in
> a sneering, derogatory, and pejorative context), and there is a
> methodology behind the approach (which any actual experienced expert
> would employ), albeit one different from what UCD advocates, then it
> wouldn't produce a field mostly consisting of failures. I know of no
> exahaustive, serious study of the many methods and experiences *of
> the full range* of people using non-UCD types of approaches to
> interaction design. So instead, we have these assertions about a
> overly-broad strawman category.
>
> Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled "genius
> design" would be better. As it's currently being defined, it would
> probably be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled, untalented
> design," since that's exactly what's going to produce failure.
>
> There are plenty, PLENTY, of failures all around us. Many
> corporations do indeed pursue research. UCD methodologies are not
> new. What's incredibly objectionable in this polemic approach by UCD
> advocates, is that designing in any other approach is a folly, or
> "has produced many failures." Just a few token, and relatively
> unexamined examples are held up to underscore the assertion that
> intuition or experience is a doomed or merely egotistical approach.
>
> There are many examples of failure of design that do involve
> research. And it happens at different levels. An otherwise even
> successful design, arrived at by any method, might still fail because
> what was really needed was a larger scale of innovation, rather than
> just a fix or refinement to an existing product, system, or service.
> So there's plenty of failure to go around.
>
> The problem is that more and more pundits are now claiming that only
> academically-approved research methods are capable of producing the
> best design results. This is merely an assertion.
>
> I'd argue very strongly, and from a long history of experience, that
> engineers kludging together products, or products, systems and
> services being feature-bloated by marketing departments is in no way
> whatsoever, "genius" or representative of skilled and experienced
> interaction designers employing expert, rapid, special forces, or
> agile approaches. The term "genius," as used in "genius design" is
> used in a completely meaningless way.
>
> An actual expert interaction designer or architect would have a
> history of smaller lessons and successes (and failures, hopefully non-
> catastrophic ones) in their past. There's a huge range of situations
> where such experience can produce, without great amounts of research,
> excellent results. This is why I suggest that a legitimate and
> wholly-underdiscussed, under-represented, and often outright
> mischaracterized approach to design - one of craftsmanship and expert
> experience and judgement - is sadly and inexcusably overlooked in
> these highly judgemental views coming from the research and academic
> community, and championed by some consultants.
>
> By repeating offensive claims that designing without UCD methodolgies
> is easier, much of a different type of hard work and difficult time-
> sensitive decisions are undervalued.
>
> Again, I'm not assailing UCD. I'm imploring UCD and other methodolgy
> advocates to be careful about how they oversimplify, mischaracterize,
> and otherwise fail a valid and important sector of the Interaction
> Design community.
>
> It's particularly interesting that claims are made that UCD arose in
> reaction to design failures. I would say that it arose because doing
> expert design is difficult, not inherently impossible or a
> "pernicious folly." It's interesting that in the vacuum that existed
> because many successful examples were not adequately known or
> publicized, that the organized academic and research communities set
> about spending the decade of the 1990s pretending that there never
> was much success other than through their methods, that they would
> advocate in order to "save" the discipline.
>
> There's an entire untold story out there, involving many successful
> design efforts using expert, intuitive, special forces, and agile
> approaches.
>
> In mountain climbing there are traditional methods, which involve a
> large-scale and organized assault of a major peak with multiple
> camps, armies of porters, and fixed lines. But there are others like
> Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, who were the first to climb all
> fourteen of the world's 8,000 meter peaks "Alpine Style," (without
> supplemental oxygen or fixed ropes). They were not "geniuses." They
> were skilled, fit, experienced, and practiced a different philosophy
> and approach.
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Messner
>
> The discipline of Interaction Design is indeed a young one. I
> personally approach it as I was trained, as an industrial designer
> and through my study of the history of architecture. There are
> thousands and thousands of projects out there that could use
> experienced and expert approaches that can't afford or don't have the
> resources or time for many approaches or methodologies most often
> discussed. These are excellent targets for Expert Design. Or "Agile
> Design," a term which I also like, and that I'm glad someone on this
> list offered up.
>
> I really don't care that much about labels, except when they're used
> to divide and discredit alternative approaches.
>
> Expert, Special Forces, Skunkworks, Intuitive, or Agile methods of
> design are *NOT* the enemy.
>
> They are just as valid and just as deserving of the amount of study
> and examination as other methods. They have been smeared by a broad
> and oversimplistic brush for far too many years.
>
> Jim
>
> James Leftwich, IDSA
> Orbit Interaction
> Palo Alto, California USA
> http://www.orbitnet.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>
>
>
>

23 Oct 2006 - 12:53am
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

I agree with you in essence. For instance, I think it's a
mischaracterization to to consider expert design to be *always* misinformed.
But I did find one point of divergence. Here:

"Your simplistic and bivalent model of informed/misinformed just fails to
map the complex topology of reality in the vast product develoment world."

The simplicity is not mine only – the labels are simplistic by nature.
Information is only one of many ill defined labels.

I would like to take the next logical, or, perhaps, postmodernist step and
side with Plato in saying that our consciousness is but reflection of the
vast product development world, therefore this conversation is
substantsially futile – it is bound to fail to map the complex topology of
the development reality. And yet, it was enjoyable to ponder about, while it
lasted.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 10/22/06, James Leftwich, IDSA <jleft at orbitnet.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> I think our only possible point of divergence here would be what
> constitutes "being informed." Many projects and domains have well-
> understood functionality, technology, and existing usage models. An
> expert will always be constantly searching out new information,
> insights, and patterns in the field(s) in which they design, as well
> as peripheral or adjacent, and even distant fields.
>
> Much design success can be gained by understanding patterns,
> interactional syntaxes, and being able to innovate past existing
> systems.
>
> Experienced generalists can drop in, size up a situation, learn
> specific information in a number of rapid, ad-hoc ways, and not
> always, but often see some fairly obvious potential patterns.
>
> Your simplistic and bivalent model of informed/misinformed just fails
> to map the complex topology of reality in the vast product develoment
> world.
>
> But in the spirit of searching for common ground, I do agree that a
> mix is good. My primary point is that the real world does not often
> afford the time, resources, and ability to do both *full* design and
> implementation of really complex systems *and* sometimes even a
> rudimentary research phase.
>
> Twenty years ago, I was often working on projects that lasted a year
> or year and a half. Over the past two decades I've witnessed the
> development cycle times decrease to two months in many cases. We're
> talking two months of 12-14/7 schedules - just to lay out a major
> interactional architecture, flows, iterative modeling, and graphical
> resources. Perhaps one could use those other ten hours to conduct
> research, but I think many would consider sleeping and eating to be a
> good thing as well.
>
> This is reality in the special forces trenches out there. Product
> startups, mobile device software development, etc..
>
> Again, nobody is saying research is not good. But understand that
> there are many other tricks, processes, strategies, and know-how
> involved in designing when it just has to be done.
>
> And great successes can be attained, and they're not flukes. The
> being informed often comes from familiarity within the domain, or
> rapidly assessing what's known by a client's marketing team, or by
> quickly brainstorming amongst a number of stakeholders.
>
> It's a mischaracterization to consider rapid or expert design to be
> conducted in a state of ignorance or being misinformed.
>
> I'm glad that we're having this dialog. I firmly believe that the
> vast majority of our debate stems from difficulties in terminologies
> and assumptions about what's meant by what terms and descriptions.
> But I also know that there are number of skills and approaches that
> are *never* mentioned, discussed, or taken seriously in the
> discipline as necessary and valuable alternatives for the world's
> current design needs.
>
> Jim
>
> James Leftwich, IDSA
> Orbit Interaction
> Palo Alto, California 94301
> USA
> http://www.orbitnet.com
>
>
> On Oct 22, 2006, at 6:54 PM, Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:
>
> > There you go...
> > Four design categories:
> > informed + talented => successful UCD, successful genius
> > informed + untalented => failed UCD
> > misinformed + talented => failed genius
> > misinformed + untalented => failed "genius"
> > --
> > Oleh Kovalchuke
> > Interaction Design is Design of Time
> > http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
> >
> >
> > On 10/22/06, Oleh Kovalchuke <tangospring at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On 10/22/06, James Leftwich, IDSA <jleft at orbitnet.com > wrote:
> > "Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled
> > "genius design" would be better. As it's currently being defined,
> > it would probably be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled,
> > untalented design," since that's exactly what's going to produce
> > failure."
> > In any design process there are at least two important parts:
> > information about future use of the product, and then there is
> > creation part. Quality information facilitates, but does not
> > guarantee brilliant final creation. On the other hand, poor
> > information will most probably impede creation of useful, good
> > designs.
> >
> > "Misinformed", and occasionally "uninformed design" would be better
> > labels for failed "genius design" to distinguish it from "UCD",
> > reflecting the fact that significant part of UCD process is
> > gathering information about the future use.
> >
> > The information can be accumulated via UCD research or via
> > extensive personal ("expert") experience in the field. Creation, on
> > the other hand, is driven by specific individuals.
> >
> > Since creation part depends on personal abilities, the value of
> > individual "expert design" can be enhanced, but cannot be replaced
> > by information provided by UCD research. Thus "untalented design"
> > is always a possibility. However one can find "untalented" designs
> > created either via user-centered or via less-obviously-user
> > centered process.
> >
> > --
> > Oleh Kovalchuke
> > Interaction Design is Design of Time
> > http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > > UCD and its methodologies arose because of the failings of
> > "intuitive/expert/genius design."
> >
> >
> > I think this statement says a lot about the fallacy of
> > oversimplification behind the term, "genius design." Not to mention
> > "intuitive," or let alone, "expert."
> >
> > If a person is truly a genius, (as opposed to the term being used in
> > a sneering, derogatory, and pejorative context), and there is a
> > methodology behind the approach (which any actual experienced expert
> > would employ), albeit one different from what UCD advocates, then it
> > wouldn't produce a field mostly consisting of failures. I know of no
> > exahaustive, serious study of the many methods and experiences *of
> > the full range* of people using non-UCD types of approaches to
> > interaction design. So instead, we have these assertions about a
> > overly-broad strawman category.
> >
> > Perhaps two, if not more categories in place of one labeled "genius
> > design" would be better. As it's currently being defined, it would
> > probably be better renamed, "inexperienced, unskilled, untalented
> > design," since that's exactly what's going to produce failure.
> >
> > There are plenty, PLENTY, of failures all around us. Many
> > corporations do indeed pursue research. UCD methodologies are not
> > new. What's incredibly objectionable in this polemic approach by UCD
> > advocates, is that designing in any other approach is a folly, or
> > "has produced many failures." Just a few token, and relatively
> > unexamined examples are held up to underscore the assertion that
> > intuition or experience is a doomed or merely egotistical approach.
> >
> > There are many examples of failure of design that do involve
> > research. And it happens at different levels. An otherwise even
> > successful design, arrived at by any method, might still fail because
> > what was really needed was a larger scale of innovation, rather than
> > just a fix or refinement to an existing product, system, or service.
> > So there's plenty of failure to go around.
> >
> > The problem is that more and more pundits are now claiming that only
> > academically-approved research methods are capable of producing the
> > best design results. This is merely an assertion.
> >
> > I'd argue very strongly, and from a long history of experience, that
> > engineers kludging together products, or products, systems and
> > services being feature-bloated by marketing departments is in no way
> > whatsoever, "genius" or representative of skilled and experienced
> > interaction designers employing expert, rapid, special forces, or
> > agile approaches. The term "genius," as used in "genius design" is
> > used in a completely meaningless way.
> >
> > An actual expert interaction designer or architect would have a
> > history of smaller lessons and successes (and failures, hopefully non-
> > catastrophic ones) in their past. There's a huge range of situations
> > where such experience can produce, without great amounts of research,
> > excellent results. This is why I suggest that a legitimate and
> > wholly-underdiscussed, under-represented, and often outright
> > mischaracterized approach to design - one of craftsmanship and expert
> > experience and judgement - is sadly and inexcusably overlooked in
> > these highly judgemental views coming from the research and academic
> > community, and championed by some consultants.
> >
> > By repeating offensive claims that designing without UCD methodolgies
> > is easier, much of a different type of hard work and difficult time-
> > sensitive decisions are undervalued.
> >
> > Again, I'm not assailing UCD. I'm imploring UCD and other methodolgy
> > advocates to be careful about how they oversimplify, mischaracterize,
> > and otherwise fail a valid and important sector of the Interaction
> > Design community.
> >
> > It's particularly interesting that claims are made that UCD arose in
> > reaction to design failures. I would say that it arose because doing
> > expert design is difficult, not inherently impossible or a
> > "pernicious folly." It's interesting that in the vacuum that existed
> > because many successful examples were not adequately known or
> > publicized, that the organized academic and research communities set
> > about spending the decade of the 1990s pretending that there never
> > was much success other than through their methods, that they would
> > advocate in order to "save" the discipline.
> >
> > There's an entire untold story out there, involving many successful
> > design efforts using expert, intuitive, special forces, and agile
> > approaches.
> >
> > In mountain climbing there are traditional methods, which involve a
> > large-scale and organized assault of a major peak with multiple
> > camps, armies of porters, and fixed lines. But there are others like
> > Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, who were the first to climb all
> > fourteen of the world's 8,000 meter peaks "Alpine Style," (without
> > supplemental oxygen or fixed ropes). They were not "geniuses." They
> > were skilled, fit, experienced, and practiced a different philosophy
> > and approach.
> >
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Messner
> >
> > The discipline of Interaction Design is indeed a young one. I
> > personally approach it as I was trained, as an industrial designer
> > and through my study of the history of architecture. There are
> > thousands and thousands of projects out there that could use
> > experienced and expert approaches that can't afford or don't have the
> > resources or time for many approaches or methodologies most often
> > discussed. These are excellent targets for Expert Design. Or "Agile
> > Design," a term which I also like, and that I'm glad someone on this
> > list offered up.
> >
> > I really don't care that much about labels, except when they're used
> > to divide and discredit alternative approaches.
> >
> > Expert, Special Forces, Skunkworks, Intuitive, or Agile methods of
> > design are *NOT* the enemy.
> >
> > They are just as valid and just as deserving of the amount of study
> > and examination as other methods. They have been smeared by a broad
> > and oversimplistic brush for far too many years.
> >
> > Jim
> >
> > James Leftwich, IDSA
> > Orbit Interaction
> > Palo Alto, California USA
> > http://www.orbitnet.com
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

23 Oct 2006 - 1:32am
Jim Leftwich
2004

Well, I agree that discussions *alone* are, ultimately, futile when
it comes to design and architecture. And yet we've been constantly
subjected to theories, methodologies, and pronouncements about what
constitutes "best practices" and what constitutes "pernicious
follies," and these assertions themselves are often just more words.
Without the work and results to back them up.

I, and a lot of other designers and architects think the bottom line
has *always* been the work, where the rubber actually meets the
road. I believe rather than express opinions and theories as
researchers and academics are wont to do, designers and architects
show their work and discuss their approaches, successes, failures,
and strategies within the contexts of, well, *actual work.*

The problem, however, is that the vast majority of actual work out
there has not been adequately reviewed and studied for alternative
methods, insights, and overlooked strategies. Because the academics
and researchers as far back as the late 1980s were already declaring
alternative methods verboten. In other words, they declared
alternative methods unacceptable without having even done proper,
rigorous study of them.

And this is *especially* true in the product and device world, as
much of the most successful design in that field has been done by
methods other than UCD. It's been done by experienced designers that
recognize the power of experience-based intuition and judgement.

I come from the field of industrial design, and from a very
generalist European/Bauhaus type of approach, which as Scott points
out, is very different from the American "everybody's a specialist"
approach. It's interesting that when I collaborate with European
designers, I almost always feel like I'm working with long-lost
relatives.

When all is said and done the only thing that's really going to
matter is how many products, systems, and services were designed.
How successful those designs were. How much those designs and
implementations cost per return. And how far forward was design (not
theory or methodology) pushed forward.

People in this discipline should spend more time studying actual real-
world design outcomes and real-world development environments and
realities. For the past two decades there's been a huge disconnect
between what's constituted success in real-world design and the
*prevailing academic/researcher-dominated discourse."

More rubber on the road. Less pie in the sky.

It's ultimately *not* a futile conversation at all.

Jim

James Leftwich, IDSA
Orbit Interaction
Palo Alto, California 94301
USA
http://www.orbitnet.com

On Oct 22, 2006, at 10:53 PM, Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:

> I agree with you in essence. For instance, I think it's a
> mischaracterization to to consider expert design to be always
> misinformed. But I did find one point of divergence. Here:
> "Your simplistic and bivalent model of informed/misinformed just
> fails to map the complex topology of reality in the vast product
> develoment world."
> The simplicity is not mine only – the labels are simplistic by
> nature. Information is only one of many ill defined labels.
>
> I would like to take the next logical, or, perhaps, postmodernist
> step and side with Plato in saying that our consciousness is but
> reflection of the vast product development world, therefore this
> conversation is substantsially futile – it is bound to fail to map
> the complex topology of the development reality. And yet, it was
> enjoyable to ponder about, while it lasted.
>
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
> Interaction Design is Design of Time
> http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

23 Oct 2006 - 8:05am
Antonella Pavese
2006

On Oct 22, 2006, at 6:54 PM, Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:

> There you go...
> Four design categories:
> informed + talented => successful UCD, successful genius
> informed + untalented => failed UCD
> misinformed + talented => failed genius

I know that debates like this are really useful and create seeds for
more complex theories on effective design. I'm a little bit concerned
though that we may get caught up in surgical distinctions that are
difficult to find in the field.

In the dusty and messy reality of projects and design practice, all
these beautiful and logical categories start to lose meaning. What is
UCD? What is genius? How many people and entities influence design
outside of the data and the designers? How does the culture of the
company influences good and bad decisions?

In my experience people get what they can when working on a project.
Among the information that influence design solutions: business
requirements, the decision-making culture of the company (consensus or
executive decision), formal and informal (more frequently informal)
bits of information about how people relate to the design, which may
be collected in lab, fields, hallways, and kitchen tables late at
night (yes, sometimes people bring their work home).

I've also noticed that some practitioners are much better than other
in connecting all these pieces of information to design solutions, and
perhaps this is part of the genius (without quotes) or design talent:
I've seen people getting the tiniest bit of observation of people
using the design, understanding immediately what needed to be
modified, and finding an effective solution. Then I've seen people
that seem to be clueless of what the problem is and what possible
solutions should be tried even after formal usability evaluations.
Most people tend to cluster in middle: they need a certain amount of
data and observations, and they need to make a certain number of
attempts to find the most effective solution.

So I like the two-dimensional structure that Oleh proposed, although I
would substituite UCD with data and observations coming from formal
and informal user study.
What is missing in this picture is the organizational and corporate
culture in which design projects happen, which sometimes has an even
greater influence on the final outcome than the talent of the designer
or whether user studies are carried out or not.

Antonella Pavese

26 Oct 2006 - 12:27am
Cwodtke
2004

Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> There you go...
> Four design categories:
>
> 1. informed + talented => successful UCD, successful genius
> 2. informed + untalented => failed UCD
> 3. misinformed + talented => failed genius
> 4. misinformed + untalented => failed "genius"
>
If only it were so simple. Informed and talented can be ahead of his/her
time, can be bad at selling the idea up, can be good at selling the idea
up, but the company can't handle it.
Meanwhile, misinformed and untalented might be executing an idea that is
so compelling design can't get in its way.

We are not as important as we think we are. We can be, but we are only
part of the big picture.

--
Christina Wodtke
Principal Instigator

Magazine :: http://www.boxesandarrows.com
Business :: http://www.publicsquarehq.com
Personal :: http://www.eleganthack.com
Book :: http://www.blueprintsfortheweb.com

cwodtke at eleganthack.com

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