Design Plus People: An Approach to Interaction Design Projects

By Laurene Vaughan, Stephen Viller, Matthew R. Simpson, Yoko Akama, Jeremy Yuille and Roslyn Cooper.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This work proposes a hypothetical model based on a shared understanding of design and ethnography that draws on the agency of both disciplines. In particular we explore how ethnography and design can become equal partners in an interaction design context. All too often one side or the other dominates this discussion. When the design view dominates, the ethnography is about providing empirical data to inform the design process. In this context, there is a risk that ethnographic fieldwork is seen simply as an empirically based service to derive data for the designers to work with. However, when ethnography dominates the project focuses on building theory, rather than meeting the brief. In this context, design is viewed as being about aesthetics and layout, and ignores the tools, methods and experiences that designers have in their repertoire to understand the people in context. This down-plays the analytic qualities that ethnography can offer in contributing to knowledge and theory. Thus the paper draws on the research undertaken within an interdisciplinary project involving designers, ethnographers, and technologists concerned with understanding how human-centred design takes place with considerations of how to enact this in the future.

Keywords: Design, Ethnography, Interaction Design, People, Communication

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.31-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 498.938KB).

Dr. Laurene Vaughan

Research Leader, RMIT University / ACID, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Laurene Vaughan is Research Leader and Postgraduate Coordinator (Communication Design) in the School of Applied Communication at RMIT Univesity. She is also a researcher and Project Manager for the Australasian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID). Over the past 20years Laurene has worked across the fields of art, design, communication and interaction. She has lectured and given presentations internationally across these fields and publishes regularly. Since 1998 she has been involved in the development of Online teaching programs at undergraduate and graduate levels. She has over 25 research student completions and is actively engaged in the scholarship of research and the pedgagogy of a studio model of knowledge creation and communication.

Dr. Stephen Viller

Lecturer, Information Environments Program, School of ITEE, University of Queensland / ACID, Queensland, Australia

Stephen Viller is a researcher and educator in people centred design methods, particularly applied to the design of social, domestic and ubiquitous computing technologies through understanding people in context. His work aims to inform and inspire design through working in multidisiplinary teams. Viller has over 15 years’ experience in HCI/CSCW research where he has focused on bridging between multiple disciplines and perspectives. His research concentrates on qualitative methods in ICT design, particularly observational fieldwork, contextual interviews, diary studies and field trips, but also increasingly on more ‘designerly’ approaches such as cultural probes, technology probes, low fidelity prototypes, rapid prototyping and sketching.

Matthew R. Simpson

Associate Lecturer, Information Environments Program, School of ITEE, University of Queensland / ACID, Queensland, Australia

Matthew Simpson is a UI designer working with the Geo group at Google. With a background in Architecture, interaction and web design, Simpson formerly lectured at the University of Queensland for seven years teaching design and studio process with information technology. During this time SImpson was a researcher with the Australasian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID) exploring game and locative experiences, and the relationship of social networks and design process. Further research interests include collaborative design and life-long learning.

Yoko Akama

PhD Student, RMIT University / ACID, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Yoko is finishing her practice-led PhD at RMIT University, School of Applied Communications. Her background is in Communication Design, where she has been practicing for the last 10 years in various locations including London and Melbourne. Her research is situated within the practice of Communication Design, where she is investigating how the designers’ agency, and the agency of other stakeholders are valued to enable a human-centred approach to design projects. Yoko has also been teaching Communication Design for 5 years. She teaches into undergraduate and postgraduate levels into various programs including Industrial Design, Media Studies and Communication Design. In the last year, she has been involved as a researcher in one of the Australian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID) projects. Oh, yes, she's Japanese by the way. And no, she wasn't named after the infamous woman who split up the Beatles…

Jeremy Yuille

Senior Lecturer, Program Manager, MCD Studio, ACID Multiuser Environments Program, RMIT University / ACID, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Jeremy Yuille is an interaction designer, digital media artist and academic specialising in interactive audio visual and design systems. He is often asked by designers, artists and programmers to 'make my ideas work.' Jeremy manages the Multiuser Environments Program for ACID. He's a co-founder of the Media and Communication Design Studio at RMIT University, where he supervises postgraduate students, and holds interaction design studios. In addition, he irregularly performs and releases music and net.art under the guise of seo.

Roslyn Cooper

Research Assistant, Information Environments, School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Roslyn has an honours degree that focused on Interaction Design and IT from the University of Queensland. Her background is in the health domain with qualifications as an RN and midwife.

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