The Best Design Process Fits the Task

Jennifer Boriss has written a follow-up post to yesterday's essay on the design process. She writes:

Every problem truly has its own “context,” and choosing an appropriate design process to fit the task at hand is an important challenge in user experience design. This process, even for simpler design tasks, should resemble at its core contextual design and the specifically the scientific method. It should begin by identifying the problem. It should progress to a phase of research and investigation into users and user needs. It should enter an iterative design phase, in which ideas are tried out, tossed aside when shown not to work, and improved upon. It should be subjected to user testing, and the subsequent data should inform the design.

There seems to be this idea that using a design process based on the scientific method leads to boring design. In my experience, this notion is wrong. The scientific method gives us tools we can use to research, plan, test and improve design in a more objective way. There's less guessing involved because these tools give you a better grasp of what's going on, but they don't remove your responsibility. You're still the one calling the shots; the only difference is that you're making your decisions based on better information.

The scientific method provides tools. But they are just tools: how you use them is up to you.

Even if you perceive this additional information as a kind of restriction: restrictions are typically not bad for creativity. Quite the opposite.

In the end, whether a design is boring or not is still entirely in the designer's hands.

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designed for use cover

But wait, there's more!

Want to read more like this? Buy my book's second edition! Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web is now available DRM-free directly from The Pragmatic Programmers. Or you can get it on Amazon, where it's also available in Chinese and Japanese.