Design Inquiry Through Data

From the caves of design research.

“The emergence of the internet and subsequent massive data collection and storage is creating vast opportunities for design research and practice. In this dissertation, we investigate the interrelationship between design and data science practices and explore data as a new creative lens for design inquiry. While digital data has been increasingly used by designers, such as using A/B testing to drive design decisions for internet products, data has been less explored as a resource for inquiry about the world. Despite how data-connected artifacts increasingly facilitate human interactions, designers’ repertoire still primarily relies on practices established for inquiring in the physical world. The current industry practice of integrating data scientists into the design team is neither affordable nor feasible to apply across the vast majority of contexts and cases where design operates. To address these problems, in this dissertation, we aim to deepen the theoretical and practical knowledge on the intersection of design and data science, and to develop methodological contributions to support future data-rich design practices. The main research question we pursue in this dissertation is ‘How can designers integrate data practices into design inquiry?’ We address this question through conducting a Research-through-Design program to gain, on the one hand, a better understanding of how the fields of design and data science intersect, and on the other hand, to develop methodological contributions for future data-rich design practices. The resulting conceptual framework of Design Inquiry Through Data has been constructed throughout a series of empirical studies in which data-rich design practices are studied. For each study, practical data methods and techniques have been curated and/or developed.”

Peter Kun a.k.a. /peterkun | @kuniiii ~ TU Delft Repositories

Usability Diverges, Media Converges, Design Remerges

The evolution of HCI has followed many roads.

“UX divergence into interaction and service design shows that creative design must be a good thing. However, it must also be a real thing, not a sanitized “safe for work” substitute from Design Thinking or Agile development. Creative design is mostly not scientific. Attempts to impose rational systematic processes and rigorous scientific practices have constantly failed and will fail more and more as more and more creative designers are recruited for their critical expertise for 21st century technological innovation. Creative designers are now at the heart of the technology industry. They won’t go away and they can’t be side- lined or marginalized. They need to be understood on their own terms and valued for the millennia of achievements that cram every museum and gallery.”

Gilbert Cockton ~ Journal of Usability Studies 15.2

Information Design for Healthcare

Still a vibrant field for any industry.

“For years, there has been a disparity in the understanding between the medical community and the general population. Despite the fact that every single individual possesses a body, most of us are not aware of how they work and how we can take care of them better. There are many reasons for this — firstly, medical science is incredibly complex and constantly evolving, treatments that were commonplace 10 years ago can be rendered archaic overnight in the face of new physiological discoveries and it can be hard to keep up. Secondly, every human body is different, and with no dearth of medical information readily available on the internet, it has become increasingly harder for an individual to determine what information is relevant to them specifically and what they can ignore. Lastly, it is not the primary responsibility of the medical community to present medical information in an easy-to-understand way to the general population which leaves many complexities untouched, nuances ignored and jargon abound. Instead, this job falls on those of us committed to information design.”

Akansha Kukreja a.k.a. /akansha-kukreja ~ Design Observer

Reliability and Validity: Ensuring a Foolproof UX Research Plan

I rather go for a full proof research plan.

“Both reliability and validity are necessary ingredients for determining the overall success of a research project (…). Let us now see how we can estimate the reliability of our research findings and ensure the validity of the methods used in our research plan.”

Pallabi Roy Singh a.k.a. @pallabi1220 ~ UXPA Magazine 20.2

Information and information architecture: The BIG picture

Information and information architecture: Alive and kicking.

“Information architecture is the process of categorizing and organizing information to create structure and meaning. To give this context, this article explores not only the basics of information architecture, but also the broader view of the information age, how we use information and how it impacts our world and our lives. Understanding the bigger picture enables us to get a much clearer perception of the value that good information architecture delivers to help our information-overloaded lives.”

Carrie Webster a.k.a. /carrie-webster ~ Smashing Magazine

UX Writing: The Art of Designing Conversations

A new UX-related discipline emerges.

“It refers to the practice of writing small pieces of text that intend to help or guide users on various touchpoints as they interact with an interface. It primarily aims to establish a medium of communication between the user and the interface. It also helps in mending (or evading) any potential conflicts or discrepancies that users may face while interacting with a digital product. UX writing differentiates itself from other forms of writing by being extremely concise, yet communicating a lot of meaning at the same time.”

Ritwik Mital a.k.a. /ritwik-mittal ~ Galaxy Weblinks

Beyond accessibility: Design ethics, edge users, and the role of active proxies in unwinding the spiral of exclusion

Accessibility, inclusion and exclusion. Life matters.

“The ethics and responsibilities of technology companies are under increased scrutiny over the power to design the user experiences embedded in their products. Researchers advocating a Rawlsian ‘just and fair’ design process have suggested a ‘veil of ignorance’ thought experiment in which designers adopt the standpoint of unspecified hypothetical users to ensure designers are not biasing their own perspectives at the expense of others. This article examines including and excluding such standpoints through the lens of edge users – a term based on extreme ‘edge cases’ in which systems are more likely to break down. Edge users are particularly marginalized and subject to a spiral of exclusion when interacting via Internet and Web resources whose design disregards them because their ability to research and voice their experiences is further limited. Active proxies, those already helping or standing in for marginalized users, can be enlisted as design allies to develop a deeper understanding of such edge groups and contexts. Design ethics, in short, needs to move beyond making technologies accessible to all people, to making all types of people accessible to designers.”

Julian Kilker ~ First Monday 25.6

AI and Accessibility

From content accessibility to AI inclusion.

“According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people worldwide have disabilities. The field of disability studies defines disability through a social lens; people are disabled to the extent that society creates accessibility barriers. AI technologies offer the possibility of removing many accessibility barriers; for example, computer vision might help people who are blind better sense the visual world, speech recognition and translation technologies might offer real-time captioning for people who are hard of hearing, and new robotic systems might augment the capabilities of people with limited mobility. Considering the needs of users with disabilities can help technologists identify high-impact challenges whose solutions can advance the state of AI for all users; however, ethical challenges such as inclusivity, bias, privacy, error, expectation setting, simulated data, and social acceptability must be considered.”

Meredith Ringel Morris ~ Communications of the ACM (June 2020)

Content strategy is a design function

Finally are we getting somewhere with design and content (‘Writing is a Design Discipline’).

Throughout my career, I’ve seen content strategy operate in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes it’s explicitly called strategy. Other times not. At some businesses, it’s highly valued. At others, it’s outsourced. Sometimes it’s run as a part of a larger line-of-business or integrated marketing team. Other times it’s wrapped into the design organisation. In many of these situations, content strategy can thrive. But across the board, in my experience, the companies that are successful in creating content-led experiences that deliver real value to their customers are the ones that see content strategy as a design function, not a management function.”

Matthew Rayback a.k.a. /matthew-rayback ~ Digital Drum

Designing the structured search experience: Rethinking the query-builder paradigm

In search we trust.

“​Knowledge workers such as healthcare information professionals, legal researchers, and librarians need to create and execute search strategies that are comprehensive, transparent, and reproducible. The traditional solution is to use command-line query builders offered by proprietary database vendors. However, these are based on a paradigm that dates from the days when users could access databases only via text-based terminals and command-line syntax. In this paper, we present a new approach in which users express concepts as objects on a visual canvas and manipulate them to articulate relationships. This offers a more intuitive user experience (UX) that eliminates many sources of error, makes the query semantics more transparent, and offers new ways to collaborate, share, and optimize search strategies and best practices.”

Farhad Shokraneh a.k.a. /farhad-shokraneh ~ Weave: Journal of Library User Experience 3.1

Usability testing for voice content

Where’s the human voice these days? In the machine?

“​It’s an important time to be in voice design. Many of us are turning to voice assistants in these times, whether for comfort, recreation, or staying informed. As the interest in interfaces driven by voice continues to reach new heights around the world, so too will users’ expectations and the best practices that guide their design.”

Preston So a.k.a. @prestonso ~ A List Apart

The author of ‘Don’t make me think’ discusses UX design’s 20-year evolution

Up to the next two decades of the field of ‘previously-known-as-UX’.

“​The book started serendipitously in the mid-’90s era of dial-up when acclaimed magazine designer and typography sage Roger Black, who is credited with the design or redesign of Rolling Stone, the New York Times Magazine and Esquire, along with websites like Barnes & Noble’s, approached Krug about a possible book deal with Macmillan Publishers. At the time, the two had been consulting for @Home Network, one of the country’s first high-speed cable internet service providers. They were close colleagues who admired each other’s work — Black the graphic design sage and Krug the usability pro.”

Jeff Link ~ built in