April 2008 issue of International Journal of Design

International Journal of Design
The April issue of the International Journal of Design has recently been published.

It is the fourth issue of this peer-reviewed journal issued by the Taiwan-based Chinese Institute of Design (read more here).

Three-in-One user study for focused collaboration
by Turkka Kalervo Keinonen, Vesa Jääskö and Tuuli Mattelmäki
This article introduces a human-centered design approach, the Three-in-One User Study, which applies a set of methods to speed up and focus on the design process. With a Three-in-One, designers’ face-to-face contacts with users are concentrated into one collaborative designer-user session where preproduced self-documentation material and early design models enable focused collaborative exploration. Three-in-One combines three different complementary points of view to design: users’ subjective interpretations, designers’ focused observations, and design interventions with models. Three-in-One was applied in a kick-bike design case, and it led to improvements to the initial concept, as well as justified decisions for further design development.

The product ecology: understanding social product use and supporting design culture
by Jodi Forlizzi
The field of interaction design has broadened its focus from issues surrounding one person interacting with one system to how systems are socially and culturally situated among groups of people. To understand the situations surrounding product use interaction design researchers have turned to qualitative, ethnographic research methods. However, stripped from underlying theory, these methods can be prescriptive at best. This paper introduces Product Ecology as a theoretical design framework to describe how products evoke social behavior, to provide a roadmap for choosing appropriate qualitative research methods and to extend design culture within HCI by allowing for flexible, design-centered research planning and opportunity-seeking. This product-centered framework is illustrated as a method for selecting a set of design research methods and for working with other research approaches that study people in naturalistic settings.

Design, risk and new product development in five small creative companies
by Robert N. Jerrard, Nick Barnes and Adele Reid
Five small creative companies were studied in detail over extended periods of the New Product Development (NPD) lifecycle. Design was a key aspect of company activity and central to the NPD process. Novel risk-tracking participatory methodologies were developed and employed to identify perceived risks at the outset of NPD and to track risk thereafter. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken on regular basis with company personnel responsible for design to provide rich contextual material. Results showed a wide diversity of perceived risk with little commonality amongst the companies – despite shared core criteria amongst the firms themselves, and the new products that were tracked. Implications for the sampled companies, and wider policy in respect of business support strategy, are considered.

How to rate 100 visual stimuli efficiently
by Yaliang Chuang and Lin-Lin Chen
Perceptual mapping is a method often employed in design and marketing as a means for visualizing consumer perceptions of product alternatives on the market. Perceptual maps can be computed from two types of data, from attribute ratings or from similarity judgments. In this paper, two computer-based methods are proposed for obtaining attribute rating data, based on multiple attribute scales, for a large number of visual stimuli: The hierarchical sorting method was developed from a strategy commonly employed in paper-and-pencil surveys, whereas the divide-and-conquer method was developed from a strategy often utilized in (computer) sorting of algorithms. In tests that used 100 armchairs as stimuli, it was found that both methods received high scores for simplicity and overall satisfaction in subjective evaluations by the participants. The evaluations, however, also showed that each method had its own advantages. While the divide-and-conquer method produced equivalent results in a significantly less amount of time than the hierarchical sorting method, the hierarchical sorting method was considered to have a higher likelihood of expressing actual opinions than the divide-and-conquer method, due to the fact that a participant using the sorting method could focus on the details of the stimuli after they had been grouped by similarity at the initial stage.

Perceptual information for user-product interaction: using vacuum cleaner as example
by Li-Hao Chen and Chang-Franw Lee
The purpose of this study is to identify which product designs for parts and directions are most effective, and then propose how perceptional information could best be designed to facilitate user-product interaction. Three categories of perceptional information for product operational tasks were proposed in this study. Task analysis and usability evaluations were carried out to analyze what information users required while they practiced the operational tasks. Finally, a primary model was proposed that revealed and defined specific types of entities and different perceptual information – Behavioural Information (BI), Assemblage Information (AI), and Conventional Information (CI) – to be significant elements for the model. Information for specific applications that is available for various types of vacuum cleaner parts is described below: 1) for specific operational tasks, these applications for operability, functionality and operational directions are required for the user-part category, and BI and CI provide effective support for the applications; 2) the application for assembly-ability is required for the part-part category, and AI and CI provide effective support for this application; and 3) the applications for operability, functionality, operational directions, and assembly-ability are required for the user-part-part category. BI and CI provide effective support for the applications for operability, functionality, whereas operational directions, and AI and CI provide effective support for the application for assembly-ability.

The nature of design practice and implications for interaction design research
by Erik Stolterman
The focus of this paper is interaction design research aimed at supporting interaction design practice. The main argument is that this kind of interaction design research has not (always) been successful, and that the reason for this is that it has not been guided by a sufficient understanding of the nature of design practice. Based on a comparison between the notion of complexity in science and in design, it is argued that science is not the best place to look for approaches and methods on how to approach design complexity. Instead, the case is made that any attempt by interaction design research to produce outcomes aimed at supporting design practice must be grounded in a fundamental understanding of the nature of design practice. Such an understanding can be developed into a well-grounded and rich set of rigorous and disciplined design methods and techniques, appropriate to the needs and desires of practicing designers.

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