My reaction to the excerpts that I read from Buxton, was that although the many examples that he provided about a variety of prototyping techniques were interesting, I was more interested in learning more about the theories and methodologies that put those specific examples into practice. I found myself becoming quickly bored, trying to find the core concepts within the details of all the provided examples/experiences.
He ideas behind the importance of sketching I found to be very useful. He says, “we need to adopt increasingly formal or explicit criteria for evaluating what stays, and where we invest our resources.” Right off the bat, the importance of generating ideas and filtering through them is stated. This single element is crucial to the design process, as it allows a massive amount of ideas to come through. The trick to this is not allowing judgement hinder this process. Another very valid point that Buxton raises, early on, is the value in “being able to articulate the reason for your decisions.” The choices that we make as designers cannot be arbitrary. It’s possible that we may arrive to certain conclusions by accident, or through a non-linear path, but every element must serve a purpose. It is our job to explain our choices.
Buxton goes into great detail describe all the different methods that one can go about in order to sketch initial designs. Personally, the most interesting idea raised for me, was the notion that while sketching the design must become like “the wizard of Oz”. When creating sketches it is not about the design being functional, but appearing functional. “Fake it before you build it.” How genius of a concept. By following such an example, we can be assured that we are saving time, money, and energy, by not investing them in ideas that don’t work!
Another very important point that Buxton raises, is the role of “play” within our process. This crucial element, allows free thinking, experimentation, and most importantly fun into the design environment. We tend to take ourselves so seriously, and I feel that comes across in the designs. It is imperative that play integrate with the process to ensure fresh lively ideas.
Overall, I did enjoy the sections I read from the book. Despite the fact that I felt that some of the examples were cumbersome to get through, I understood and appreciated their relevance to the topics at hand.
I really enjoyed reading excerpts from the book. The fact that different portions of the book were written my different professionals in the design field, gave a variety of insightful perspectives on the design process. This reading was also an excellent compliment to the Buxton reading, because it offered specifics in both best practices and process.
One of the first ideas raised, and something I had never thought of before, was the three stages of technology use. Consumers fall under one of three categories when purchasing and/or using new technologies: the enthusiast, the professional, and the consumer. I, along with most of my colleagues fall into the enthusiast category. Many times I am inclined to purchase a new technology or try out new software because it’s something “new”. Even if it is expensive or challenging, I want to get my hands on it. Just in reading this, I really identified.
Another interesting concept was the comparison of interactive design and early cinema. Due to the infancy of the design field, its unique language is still being developed. In order to codify a series of terms and practices it is easiest to borrow from pre-existing disciplines that share certain similarities. Both cinema and interaction design, are both time based mediums, thus they share many similarities. However, I believe there is one huge difference. Cinema explores time in a very linear fashion, being comprised of a narrative with a clear beginning, middle and end. Interaction design is not experienced in a linear fashion. Yes, there is a progression throughout a users experience, but generally there are an infinite number of “pathways” that a user can navigate through.
In the discussion about “what design is”, the consensus is, is that good design is centered around constraints. While reading this I was in the middle of my 7 in 7 project, and I agreed that without guidelines or “restrictions”, the process of design would be much more challenging. Charles Eames says, “Here is one of the few effective jets to the design problem – the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible – his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints–the constraints of price, of size, of strength, balance, of surface, of time, etc.; each problem has its own peculiar list.”
For me, the most important section of the reading, was the breakdown of the different components of the Design Process. I think it is imperative as a design to be exposed to as many methods and processes as possible, in order to best shape my own practice. Having each step explained and explored gave me insight into my own work, as a very often leave out crucial parts. Constraints, synthesis, framing, ideation, envisioning, uncertainty, selection, visualization, prototyping, and evaluation. I think I need to put these up along my wall above my desk. It is interesting to me that prototyping is towards the end of the process. I am so quick to just jump in and make, without spending the time to really think about my ideas and where they are coming from. But an important point is made, although all of these elements are crucial to the process they do not always need to be made in the same order.