Culture of Knowledge
- Usability and User Experience
- Design Anthropology
- Participatory Design
- Design Research
Analytical reflections and constructive design explorations are two sources of energy that enable us to find practical answers to topical questions. They generate innovative references where so far there are none.
Every day our practical work profits from the fact that we are higly inspired by both of those sources: we are makers before we are scientists, although we do have team members with scientific backgrounds. We consciously see ourselves as a team of researching designers, while sometimes as designing explorers. However, we are always ready to return safely from these excursions, realising our ideas within the projects in suitable and successful ways that meet the requirements of our clients, their end users and the society.
We live in a time of fast-paced technological changes and continuous advancement. However, this does not worry us - we enjoy having a challenging job and setting standards. This involves passion and perfection, the ability to explore beyond conventional boundaries and being pragmatically precise.
Usability and User Experience
Task-centred software and product development is outdated! Today the user-centred development with its methods is generally acknowledged as a promising concept for success. A major issue supporting this is that being human sometimes seems to clash with the increasing complexity of our technical surroundings. If these are not capable of exposing themselves to us in a sensible and approachable manner, we may quickly, and long-term, be unable to cope with them. In such case we fail to understand, and react with disappointment and rejection.
We must therefore make the human being with all his facettes central when we design socio-technological, interactive processes, systems and products - people’s weaknesses and strengths, fears and wishes as well as physical and psychological capabilities and limitations.
Such user-centred approach is inherent in the profession of the usability and user experience fields and combines two value concepts: the practical value of usability, that is fitness for purpose / user-friendliness and hedonistic values such as the power of identification and fun, which user experience focuses on.
From the beginning, i.e. for the past 12 years, we have been passionate members of the national and international usability / user experience community and contribute with lectures and workshops. This means that we confidently apply current standards, guiding principles and findings, and even continuously and actively develop these within the community.
The user-centred design approach, as defined by ISO EN 9241-210, is a valuable procedure for planning a project that is focused on and evaluated in collaboration with its users. However, it is questionable whether this approach alone enables us to create innovations, which are motivated by a deeper understanding of what people truly might appreciate as a desirable future, especially with respect to ideas that are yet without references.
Being successful in the area of user-driven innovation requires creative handling of research methods to discover the implicit knowledge, thinking and feeling of users. In this context, Design Anthropology is a highly promising concept that we pursue. It combines empirical research methods from anthropology and sociology with design thinking methods and the explorative creation of artefacts as media to stimulate a forward-looking and productive exchange of ideas between users, designers and manufacturers.
We are currently expanding our competencies in this particular area, since this approach already has been, and increasingly will be a valuable catalyst for the design processes within many of our national and international projects.
A pragmatic approach of involving users as co-designers was developed in the US in the late 1980s. However, it emerged from an older design movement in Scandinavia, Participatory Design. Already in the 1970s and 1980s there were attempts in Scandinavia to design products through more democratic processes, involving the people who were going to become the users of these products. At that time these ambitions were politically motivated - a worker should have a say in designing the tools that shape his work practice - and with this of course questions of usability and user experience were already addressed.
How to cleverly involve users is a central challenge to tap the desired full potential for designing. We know how to plan user involvement with experience and skill, e.g. by creating stimuli in order to make the design process accessable.
Together with our clients we create strategies for a successful user involvement that are uniquely adapted to each specific project.
In tune with an agile community of design researchers, we understand the term Design Research in three distinct ways:
Research for design
Especially when we speak of design tasks which require the creation of reference points where so far there are none, we try to be more investigative and experimental as designers to explore the field for this particular project's intentions and push the boundaries where it makes sense or it is necessary.
Research into design
As a living and future-oriented discipline, design itself is constantly changing. This means for example that we continuously develop our design approaches as well as create innovative methods that can contribute to design practice.
Research through design
In this meeting of science and design we are increasingly designing objects of research. These may be artefacts used to confront people with to understand what may be a promising direction for interaction, allowing us to draw conclusions for the interface design of products and systems.
All three of these perspectives are important to us in the continuous development of our profession and synergistically influence our work.