There has been an ongoing conversation about the role and relationship of theory and practice in the HCI community. This paper explores this relationship through a tentative model, which describes a “trickle-down” of theory into practice, and a “bubble-up” of ideas from practice to inform research and theory development. Interviews were conducted with interaction designers, which included their knowledge of two design methods—affinity diagramming and the concept of affordance—as well as a description of their use of design methods in practice. Based on these interviews, potential relationships between theory and practice were explored through this model. Knowledge of the history or key steps of executing a design method was not found to negatively affect the ability of a designer to apply the key concepts of a method in practice. Opportunities for future research, based on the use of the tentative model as a generative model, are considered.
This note describes our analysis of 35 papers from CHI 2011 that aim to improve or support interaction design practice. In our analysis, we characterize how these CHI authors conceptualize design practice and the types of contributions they propose. This work is motivated by the recognition that design methods proposed by HCI researchers often do not fit the needs and constraints of professional design practice. As a complement to the analysis of the CHI papers we also interviewed 13 practitioners about their attitudes towards learning new methods and approaches. We conclude the note by offering some critical reflections about how HCI research can better support actual design practice.
Roedl, D. & Stolterman, E. (2013) Design Research at CHI and its Applicability to Design Practice. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Paris, France). ACM Press, New York, NY. [Paper]
Research on design pedagogy has shown that students progress through a variety of barriers on the path to becoming a successful design practitioner, and that frameworks for explicit reflection can be beneficial to the development of design students. Schön uses the concept of reflection-on- action to describe one form of reflection on design practice, with the eventual goal of improving design processes and judgment. In this study, sketching is used as a form of reflection-on-action in a first semester intensive course in interaction design (IxD). This sketch reflects the student’s current understanding of the “whole game” or holistic view of design in IxD. Current practitioners in IxD companies were asked to draw the “whole game” sketch as well. Parallels among the sketches and areas of divergence are discussed. In summary, students shifted from abstract, linear representations of process early in the semester to more concrete, iterative representations by the end of their first semester. Practitioner sketches were more abstract and linear, but also included representations of business terminology and design teams.
Gray, C. M. & Siegel, M. A. (2013). Sketching Design Thinking: Representations of Design in Education and Practice. DRS // CUMULUS 2013: 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers, Oslo, Norway, 2007-2031. [Paper]