Aditya Muley: Method in Madness – The Logical Chaos of Design

Jul 26, 2011 | Posted by admin in Campus Corner, Student's Speak   10 Comments »

My Design professor, Prof. Kaustubh Dhargalkar, kept  bombarding our minds with ideas beyond imagination; beyond borders of our thinking. Constantly pushing us  to find a seed of unique idea to germinate from a fertile mind. We wondered what would happen when we delved into  these uncharted mental waters…

I was always fascinated by the subject of Design. I could spend hours listening to him talk about the subject of design, how innovation and design go hand in hand. So when an opportunity came to work with a design firm; I was more than willing to shift base to a newer city, take up a lesser pay just to be able to stay closer to the subject I had come to love over the time I spent at Welingkars. I tried defining design for my benefit, as well as for when I have to talk about design to other.

When the word “Design” is used it can mean many things, depending on who you are and which conversation you are having. Rarely do people stop to compare ‘mental maps’ and clarify which type of design they are talking about!

I believe this has to do with the multiple definitions of design and the lack of awareness of each specific type of design, its function and timing in a process. The other factor being; how familiar you are with “design” based on your past experiences with different design roles.

Here are some examples of conversations I have and hear frequently that cause to stop and ask “What type of design are we talking here?”

  • “We’ll take care of that when we get to design”
  • “That’s something the designer will have to figure out…”
  • “We’re starting design now…”
  • “We’re bringing in a designer…”
  • “Here are some early design concepts…”
  • “This will be decided by the designer”
  • “Have you started design yet?”
  • “Why are these designs in Latin?”
  • “The design looks great!”
  • “This isn’t the final design; we’ll get to that later…”

Since the word “design” means many things to many people, let’s define design as seen from a usability consultant’s perspective (that’s what we do at my office!).

Design for the Mind

Design that impacts cognitive processes (fit to the mind) including interpreting and understanding the experience.

#1 User Interface Design: Screen layout and design that focuses on user interactions and screen behaviors. User Interface (UI) design is an important component of user-centered and task-oriented design. The focus of UI Design is to improve the “user experience” or usability of the design. Since the mid 1980′s, UI design has refined an understanding of human behavior and screen design. Also called “GUI” design; often confused for combined design and programming. UI Design is often seen as symbolic of green-screen era interfaces or coding, since developers used to be UI Designers before it was recognized that this was a special skill set…

#2 Information Architecture: Skeleton mock-ups or “wireframes” of screen interactions, layout, navigation and features. Used to review, concept and test initial functionality.  Information Architecture (IA) is officially unrecognized by academic institutions, because it overlaps too closely with the already existing field of UI Design above. Few realize that IA was invented for commercial purposes originally by Argus Associates in the late 90′s, (Rosenfeld & Morville, yes, the polar bear book guys) to promote consulting and book sales, as revealed by former employee Keith Instone at his ‘alphabet soup’ talk a few years ago in Portland, Oregon.

#3 Interaction Design: Focuses on how the user interacts with a page, application or product. Interaction design follows a task centered design approach ensuring the flow of the interaction as the central goal. Interaction design predates the Web world, and finds its roots in the wider field of Human Computer Interaction. Interaction design is a more general umbrella that many working on Web 2.0 interfaces and web applications prefer, since IA appears stuck in web-page centric paradigms.

Sanity check: Are the three design disciplines above different? Not really, their goals are all the same.

Design for the Heart

Design that impacts sensory processes (fit to the emotions) including the feelings and emotional or affective qualities of the experience.

#4 Graphic Design: The “eye-candy or look and feel”. Graphic design is widely known and it’s similarity to UI Design in what is often called “visual design” by people like Luke Wat. (Luke is a graphic design by background but does great UI design and visual design today).

In a usability process, once wire-frames are finalized, they are graphically treated to enhance the interaction design with aesthetic flavor. Graphic design focuses on enhancing layout, buttons, colors, icons and branding elements. The focus of graphic design is to improve the “look and feel” or stylistic aspects of the design. Because graphic designers operate from the heart, they are often accused of producing “fluff”. If you give a graphic designer user interface specifications, however, their results can be outstanding.

#5 Interactive Design: This Art college degree type is largely a hybrid discipline that captures a little of everything. An Interactive Designer produces good Flash pieces, animation, graphic design and some database programming or HTML. At the heart an Interactive Designer is great at graphic design and has a sensitivity and sensibility for usability.
#6 Emotion Design: Emotion design comes from the field of usability and product design. Emotion design is concerned with the specific social, environmental, personal and intimate qualities of user experience. Emotion design is a fringe discipline within the usability and user research communities that is gaining an “I told you so” voice with products like Apple’s iPhone creating so many “ooooh, ahhhhs” from customers. Emotion design is an approach that can inform the outcome of any of the design types. e.g. “This user is influenced by this perception, expectation, color, shape, feeling…”

Design for the Body

Design that impacts anthropomorphic processes (fit to the human body) including the social and physical contexts of the experience.
#7 Industrial Design: Physical products that we can all relate to…the most obvious– a mobile device. Like graphic design, industrial design is easy to spot in everyday experience. Physical product design has origins that can be found at any local history museum. Since the dawn of time, human civilization’s has been defined by its tool or artifact creation abilities. Physical products with “good design” are intuitive: they feel, sound, look and work elegantly. Good industrial designers have, for much of the 20th century, mastered physically many of the design types described above, creating an impressive history of design for the human body, senses, environment and mind in a way that transcends, evokes and transforms experiences the user performs with the product.

The final groups below are methodologies and approaches encompassing the design techniques above. Let’s take a quick look at some of these approaches or methodologies that cross into the blurry line of “design”.

Holistic approaches/ methodologies

#8 User Centered Design: The overall industry and ISO standard methodology and set of techniques that places the user at the center of the design. User-centered design (UCD) involves three key activities: User research; UI prototyping and Usability Testing. UCD is iterative by nature and has the most impact if conducted early on in a software, product or web development process. Its methods and techniques and general approach to design are proven from an ROI perspective and are widely accepted in industry, academia and in government sectors.
#9 User Experience Design: A relatively new term that updates the term and discipline of UCD or “usability engineering”. User experience adding a more holistic element to the technique of designing the user experience (on web sites or web applications). User Experience or UX design I consider more an approach or umbrella of techniques or a general approach. It is not a type of design per say, as its practitioners will inevitably conduct UI design, IA or interaction design as the deliverable of the UX design approach.
#10 Experience Design:
Experience design is often used as a short hand for User Experience Design, but is largely considered with what I call Environmental Design, or the design of the experience in retail or open space environments. Again, Experience Design is a general umbrella approach or methodology that penetrates all design decisions but with an experiential agenda.

“What will the customer experience as they do X?” must have been what the Starbucks experience designers were thinking…

Retail and public spaces can greatly benefit from improved loyalty (attachment feelings, comfort and personalization) and productivity (learning, exploring and browsing) studies have found. Experience Design makes use of the context, social and environmental phenomenon as well as the feelings, perceptions and intuitions of the user in that context.

Aditya Muley

PGDM – Business Design (09-11)

Product Design Manager, Design Core India Pvt Ltd.


10 Responses to “Aditya Muley: Method in Madness – The Logical Chaos of Design”

  1. Hello! I would just like to offer my thanks for the super information you have here on this post. I will be visiting your website for more cool info soon.

  2. Fantastic site. Plenty of helpful information here. I am sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you for your effort!

  3. Anxiety disorder says:

    Great article. I’ve enjoyed this contribution. Its nice to see every questions answered in a blog post like this. I will add this post on my blog and link to it. Thanks for a clear informative post, I’ve learned a lot.

  4. Greetings! I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

  5. Absolutely pent written content, Really enjoyed studying.

  6. very nice post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

  7. Incredibly helpful post. Thank you.

  8. Finance says:

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I to find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others such as you helped me.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2011. All Rights Reserved. Designed by Singapore SEO SEO Blog  SEO Web Design  Mind Movies