IDSA Conference Design (Education) Submissions
I was inspired over the weekend to craft a few abstracts for submission to the 2013 IDSA International Conference education track. Getting one accepted would give me a great excuse to keep thinking about it! They’re a bit rough, but take a look and see which (if any) you’d be interested in.
- A Design Intervention At Occupy Wall Street, A Social Design Workshop
As best practice tells us, an ethnographic approach can be employed to better understand the people and organizations we design for, to give them products that not only address their needs, but that also actually make sense in their everyday lives. Ethnography has proven invaluable to design process. It provides a way to get beyond “user needs,” to reveal the shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that influence decisions about adoption and ongoing use.
In 2011 and 2012, the presenter taught a series of workshops on using ethnography as applied to user experience design for the New York chapter of the IxDA. He took as his research site, Liberty Square, a.k.a Zucotti Park, ground zero to the Occupy Wall Street movement and spent a cold winter afternoon there with his students, visiting, observing, and engaging with the occupiers in their two month old encampment. The goal, to determine what, if any, design interventions would improve their ability to communicate and coordinate their protest; with the hope to design for the social benefit of the Occupy movement as a whole. Following the fieldwork, a second group worked together to develop product concepts grounded in ethnographic data the fieldwork generated.
This talk will present the story of the two workshops, introducing ethnography to an audience of designers, giving them the opportunity to conduct participant observation, use their observations to develop innovative ideas, and reflect on how their experience changed their bias and allowed them to generate ideas for the social benefit of the occupiers that they wouldn’t have been able to generate without first-hand experience.
This is drawn from my IxDA workshop on Design Ethnography outlined on the Moment Blog, in my three part series on Designing for Occupy Wall Street.
- Design Analysis & Synthesis: A Palette of Approaches
After the the research is done, and before you really know what your solution will be, this is when the insights that lead to great design emerge. Generating insights is the work of design analysis and synthesis, but this part of the design process is often a bit of a black box. Analysis and synthesis are underrepresented in academic and commercial literature and discussion. This lack of formal definition means that analysis and synthesis activities, though immensely valuable to design work, are difficult to teach to students, explain to management, or defend to clients.
Discussion of analysis and synthesis often centers on description of research and design methods. This method-led approach may also lead to leads to method fetishization (i.e., the overuse of personas) where the purpose of the activity may be obscured by the popularity of the deliverable it produces. Exposing the purpose of the methods we employ through an organizing framework may allow practitioners to more easily navigate, modify or invent new methods when the existing ones don’t fit.
In this session, a framework will be presented for organizing the design analysis and synthesis process, and more easily exposing the purpose of the activities and methods we use. The purpose of this framework is to equip practitioners to manage the complex arena of design research and analysis methods. The framework consists of a palette of five “types” of analysis and synthesis activities, Organization, Exploration, Ekphrasis (or Interpretation), Framing, and Projection, that expose the underlying mechanics of common design analysis and synthesis methods.
This is an expanded version of a workshop I ran at the 2009 EPIC conference in Chicago entitled Analysis and Synthesis for Design: An Elephant Surrounded by Blind Men. Katherine Bennett was kind enough to reference my work on her blog.
- Cultural Affordances: A Social Perspective on Product Adoption
Interpretation of human culture is an important factor for understanding how and why people adopt and use tools and products, access services, create and appreciate art and design. But, outside of advanced academic pursuits, discussion of the implications of social and cultural factors are sorely lacking from most design discourse.
The prevalent current trend, a focus on ‘user-centered design’ generally provides a more cognitive framework for communicating use, guiding us to create and interpret design as if it were for a singular person. The notion of affordances has great merit to a designer, but stops unfortunately short of describing a useful concept for the evaluating and guiding design to fit society. In short, it helps product USE be better understood, but stops short of providing a framework for product adoption. Knitting a designed artifact (product, environment, or service, etc.) into the routines, belief systems, attitudes, values, goals, or practices that define human organization is too often left to chance, which decreases that product’s likelihood for adoption.
Looking to the social sciences, a social and cultural approach to this concept can be imagined. This talk will present the concept of Cultural Affordances: qualities of objects that enable people to interpret their UTILITY and VALUE through a social and cultural frame. We will discuss the ways that designers can use cultural affordances to more effectively design for adoption. Two example approaches, the inclusion of Skeuomorphs and Spandrels, will be offered and explored as strategies for designing artifacts with the obvious social or cultural value necessary for adoption.
This is drawn from the investgation I started when I presented a Pecha Kucha on Skeumorphs and Spandrels at the 2010 EPIC Conference in Tokyo. That presentation is available on Slideshare.