Interaction Design in High-stakes Domains: The Impact of Design at the Intersection of Expertise and Technology

By Axel Roesler.

Published by The Design Collection

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

The design of interactive systems in high-stakes work environments such as medicine and aviation, is guided by domain knowledge. The design of artifacts and interfaces for use in these “expert domains” is driven by the explanations and expectations of practitioners who use these interactive systems to complete work tasks. Interaction designers may be new to the expert domain under design yet need to gain a solid design expertise within the domain before they can propose innovations. How do interaction designers gain deep conceptual understanding of the domain under design? A research collaboration between the University of Washington’s Interaction Design Graduate Program and Boeing’s Flight Deck Concept Center explored new directions in interaction design for the commercial flight deck. As a case study, the project demonstrates how interaction designers can successfully contribute to innovation in the high-stakes environment of aviation, where design impacts practice at the intersection of technology, experts, and their work. A review of the design process outlines the challenges of designing for expert domains and describes new strategies for interdisciplinary collaboration between designers, researchers, and engineers in the fields of interaction design and aviation.

Keywords: Interaction Design, Human Centered Design, Cognitive Systems Engineering, Conceptual Models, Design Process, Expertise, Decision-Making, Innovation, Aviation

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.37-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.557MB).

Dr. Axel Roesler

Assistant Professor, Program at the Division of Design, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Dr. Axel Roesler is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Interaction Design Program at the Division of Design at the University of Washington. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering. He received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Systems Engineering with a specialization in Human Centered Design from The Ohio State University. He also holds an M.F.A in Industrial Design from The Ohio State University and a Diplom in Industrial Design (equivalent to M.A.) from Burg Giebichenstein, Hochschule für Kunst und Design (University of Art and Design) in Halle, Germany. He came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar in 1998. Recent research projects address interaction design and cognitive support in decision-making aided by health information technology, new interaction design directions for the commercial flight deck, new concepts for interacting with procedural instructions and task plans, and an interface framework that applies principles of perspective to control remote views into dynamic spatial settings. Industry partners and research collaborators include Boeing, Microsoft, Intel, Group Health, and the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies at the UW School of Medicine.


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