Investigative Designing: usage-oriented research in and through designing

BOESS, Stella, DE JONG, Annelise, KANIS, Heimrich and ROODEN, M.J. Theo (2009). Investigative Designing: usage-oriented research in and through designing. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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In this paper, we discuss the practice of investigative designing. The notion is currently being used to denote a variety of ideas in design research, and we first seek to clarify some of them. We then present our own, specific take on this notion, while acknowledging that it is being used broadly. We adopted the notion as an umbrella term for our combined research and design activities: as investigative designers. We use it for the exploration of how designers can integrate designing and researching within a design process. The two main concerns we are pursuing within this are to clarify the role of a designer with research skills, and to explore the implications of a usage orientation in design. We present two studies in this paper in which we investigated how usage research for design can be specifically geared to the needs of design, and what helps designers (and what does not) in designing with usage information. In the first study, we ourselves conducted usage research, developed design ideas on the basis of that, and reflected on this process. In the second study, we observed how three other designers engaged with the same user data and developed design ideas. Our findings include that the designers tended to prefer to develop their own design ideas independently from the data, only checking or adapting the ideas to the data. Furthermore, the capacity of designers for dealing with data needs to be taken into consideration. Lastly, the form of data presentation influences how well designers can engage with it in designing.

Investigative Design; Designing; Designer; Product Usage; User Research

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:04

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