Tutaleni I. Asino
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Reaction note: Synthesizing Good Design: Principles and Patterns


In declaring that “a solution’s ability to meet the goals and needs of users while also accommodating business goals and technical constraints is one measure of design quality,” the authors begin to lay out their arguments for what they believe “makes a design solution good” and why it is important that the design process be human centered.

The 8th chapter of “About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design” discusses what I deem to be the humanistic aspect of the design process and how it can be measured. The authors argue that design quality can be measured by looking at the design principles and patterns being utilized in the design process.

Design principles are value driven and “at the core of these values is the notion that technology should serve human intelligence and imagination (rather than the opposite) and that people’s experiences with technology should be structured in accordance with their abilities of perception, cognition, and movement” (pg.150). Design principles can be divided into four categories which are not necessarily hierarchical:
• Design Values
• Conceptual principles
• Behavioral principles
• Interface-level principles

The above four categories of principles should be anchored in the design values of the interaction designer, with the purpose of serving the needs of human being:

• Ethical [considerate, helpful]
• Purposeful [useful, usable]
• Pragmatic [viable, feasible]
• Elegant [efficient, artful, affective]

Design Patterns, are more procedural in nature in that they are aimed at formalizing the design process with such purposes as:
• Reduce time and effort on new projects
• Improve the quality of design solutions
• Facilitate communication between designers and programmers
• Educate designers

A frustration that I often have with some designers is that there seem to be a disconnect between their product and the greater good. There is often a failure to articulate how a product will improve the lives of others. Some designers seem driven only by the desire to create something cool, to push the limits of technology. There’s nothing wrong with this school of thought necessarily because pushing technology can yield many benefits, however, I do not believe that taking a humanistic approach to design and pushing the limits of technology need to be mutually exclusive.

An intentional discussion of design values that are based on an ethical code of conduct, is to me as integral to the design process as any other design decisions and consideration. It is important to always be mindful of the fact that another being will make use of the product created and that there are benefits and effect that will be derived from the product. This is perhaps more critical in developing education software/product because educators are given far more trust than perhaps many other occupations.

Reference: Cooper, Reimann, & Cronin. (2007). About face 3: The essentials of Interaction Design. Wiley.

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