Design/Science/Planning Vol. 2
Information Processing in DesignBy John Restrepo
In order to design proper information systems for designers, it is important to understand how they enrich their knowledge base during the design process, what triggers their queries for information, what strategies they use and what factors influence their behavior in relation to information seeking. Exploring these questions requires a closer look into the design process and the factors that influence information intake. This book intends to address this issue.
It starts by proposing that because of the special nature of the problems typically faced by designers, active problem structuring is required. In this interpretation of Newell and Simonís (1972) theory of human problem solving, problem structuring in understood as bringing new information to bear on the problem situation. It is proposed that three elements provide the support for problem structuring. The strategy used, the design requirements generated (or given), and the information accessed. All three aspects are explored through a series of empirical studies.
In relation to the first element, it is proposed, after an empirical study, that the use and application of information is more important than the designerís choice for a problem oriented or a solution oriented strategy. In relation to the second element, the design requirements, and after a second empirical study, it is proposed that the requirements generated during the design process play a crucial role in structuring design problems, and that, contrary to what literature suggests, this process of generating new requirements is neither smooth nor incremental. Instead, it involves both, incremental steps and radical re-organizations.
In relation to the third element, information access, the criteria used by the designers when deciding what information to use; or how did this information influence the design process are explored in a new empirical study. It is argued that understanding the relevance criteria used by designers in judging information is fundamental to increasing the accessibility of information systems.
The use and handling of visual information is also considered. In this book, it is proposed that in thinking of a solution to a problem, the designer has a vague image of the form that will embody the solution. Creating collages, sketches and other types of (external) visual representations are used to help in shaping and establishing this image. For this, designers make extensive use of design precedents. Through the development of a software prototype, and by means of three empirical studies, theoretical and technological aspects of the use and handling of design precedents are explored.
This book closes with a discussion on the main aspects that impede information processing in design, being the most prominent ones those related to the designersí cognitive abilities, knowledge base, experience and volition. Others that are related to characteristics of the information itself or of the information source are also discussed. Additionally, this book suggests a number of variables that need to be studied in order to make progress in understanding the designersí information seeking behavior and information needs.
Originally published by DUP; As from March 2006 exclusively distributed by Techne Press with permission