Crossing the gap

21 Nov 2003 - 4:22pm
770 reads
Josh Seiden

> I'm not so sure I'm agree completely w/ the spirit of
> e-mail. I mean I'm all for user-centere design ...

> For about the last two years I've been searching for
> to explain to me how "the gap" is crossed. I see "the
gap" as
> that moment when you look at all your data from all
> research and say ... This is the answer. I thought
for years
> that those who do great design used some scientific
method to
> say this task item goes here and that task item goes
> ... That there was a science to all this. But it
really took
> a great leap of faith to myself to just say ... "Hey!
I know
> what I'm doing. Go for it!"


I don't think that having faith in your judgment as a
designer means that you must forsake user-centered

I've thought a lot about the gap recently too. I've
been using personas, scenarios, and narratives as
design tools for the last 6 years, and recently I've
come to understand them (in this context) as
gap-crossing tools. For me, the key is this: personas
and storytelling enable designers to switch from
rational/analytical thinking to synthetic/creative
thinking. This switch is absolutely required to get
across the gap that separates research from solution.

I believe that there is no rational, deterministic way
to get across. (At least, no good one.) That said,
turning to creative thinking doesn't mean cutting
oneself loose from all constraints, tools, techniques.
Creative thinking happens in a context. In fact,
creativity and constraints are often tightly linked.
(Think bebop. Think capoeira.)

Tools and constraints both set the size of the gap, and
provide the means to cross it. If your tools are
user-centered, then you are likely to find yourself on
the other side of the gap with a user-centered
solution. (If your tools are saxophones, modal scales,
and jazz standards, your solution is likely to be
be-bop.) Of course, to get there, you had to rely on
your designer's judgment.


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