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Human-centered Design Methodology. Petra Badke-Schaub Peter Lloyd Remko van der Lugt Norbert Roozenburg Design Theory and Methodology Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. team under construction. outline. Past: Research Issues and Projects Research Methods Future:

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human centered design methodology

Human-centered Design Methodology

Petra Badke-Schaub

Peter Lloyd

Remko van der Lugt

Norbert Roozenburg

Design Theory and Methodology

Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering



  • Past:
    • Research Issues and Projects
    • Research Methods
  • Future:
    • Design Methodology: Limitations
    • Research Programm

1. the past 5 years

Aim: Understanding the design process

  • Reflective practice in design
  • Sketching during idea generation
  • Discourse analysis of design processes
  • Ethical decision-making

a. Reflective practice in design

Theoretical basis: reflective practice (Schön, 1983)

Empirical studies:

  • Valkenburg 2000: analysis of design groups
  • Kleinsmann 2005: analysing barriers and enablers of shared understanding in a multidisciplinary project team in industry
  • McDonnell, Lloyd and Valkenburg 2004: VALiD project – Video Assisted Learning in Design:
    • A team of designers filmed their own design process and edited a film of the design process from the footage
    • Learning through watching the own footage, selecting 'important' bits and compiling the edited film.

b. Sketching during idea generation

Aim: evaluation of the use of methods in particular phases of design

Empirical studies:

  • van der Lugt (2001, 2002): analysed the relation between sketching and idea generation using linkography
    • how are ideas deriving from visual information
    • how are they associated to, and built on, earlier ideas in the session.
c discourse analysis of design processes
c. Discourse analysis of design processes

Aim: evaluation of the use of words, concepts and assumptions during the design process

Empirical studies:

  • Lloyd and Busby 2001: in design practice
  • Lloyd 2002: in television programmes about design processes
  • Lloyd 2003: commentary on the design process (story telling)
d ethical decision making
d. Ethical decision-making

Aim: to analyse ethical judgments in the design process

Empirical studies:

  • Lloyd and Busby 2003: analysis of discussions and conversations of designers and the ethical assumptions they use.
  • Results:
    • ethical judgments in technical disciplines are closely related to aesthetic judgements
    • discourse in design is highly normative

Research methods

how to get meaningful results?

“People who write about methodology often forget that it is a matter of strategy, not of morals. There are neither good nor bad methods, but only methods that are more or less effective under particular circumstances in reaching objectives on the way to a distant goal.” (Homans, 1949)


Research methods


  • understandingdesigning as a human activity

Protocol analysis of design activity:

  • verbal and non-verbal aspects of individual design processes
  • communication of design teams


  • Protocol analysis is based on large quantities of empirical data two problems:
    • to manage the data effectively
    • to analyse the data meaningful

Research methods

  • Data Management
    • Linkography, a way of analyzing protocols of design activity developed by Goldschmidt (1996)
      • setting links between moves, and then analyzing the resulting link structure
    • Software Interact: direct coding of video footage without transcribing the videotapes; segmentation on events or on time sampling; overlapping codes,…
  • Data Analysis
    • segmentation of the design process, depending on the matter of interest
    • the main emphasis is to create a categorization system relating to the research question: THEORY
    • meaningful ways to interpret the data

2. Future

  • Design Methodology: Limitations
  • Research Programm
design methodology
Design methodology
  • provides insight into the complete process
  • gives structure to the design process
  • provides rules and methods during the design process
  • proposes general strategies of solving problems independently of a branch of industry

Design Methodology: Limitations

An example

  • 3 laboratory teams and one team in industry have been observed during their collective design process
  • communication has been recorded and analysed sentence-by-sentence
  • each utterance has been classified according to the focus (content vs. process) and the action (solution generation, ...)

Two strategies dealing with solution ideas

Strategy 1

  • new solution idea - no further analysis - immediate decision on the solution idea
  • methodological perspective: ideas should be first analysed and then evaluated:
    • a premature rejection may discard a good solution idea
    • a premature adoption of a solution idea may prove later as inadequate

Two strategies dealing with solution ideas

Strategy 2

  • failure of process 1
  • lack of common understanding
  • critical group members (advocatus diaboli)
  • reflection
  • use of methods
limitations rational model
Limitations: Rational model

Two basic assumptions:

  • humans are perfect information processors
    • the designer is able to analyse the advantages and disadvantages of any alternative
    • the designer is able to evaluate the objective consequences of each alternative
    • the designer is able to select the alternative with the maximum utility
  • an optimal solution can be determined
    • complete informationis available


Empirical Results: Designers rarely do follow these predefined procedures

  • information is disregarded
  • information is forgotten
  • alternatives are not listed completely
  • consequences are neglected

instead of

    • rationality -> bounded rationality
    • maximising utility -> satisficing utility (Simon, 1956)
does not relate to cognitive and motivational characteristics

does not relate to situational characteristics, such as time-constraints

does not relate to the socialcontext, such as cooperation and conflict

Humans tend to reduce complexity in order to reduce cognitive load.

Perceived difficulty of a task and the non-availability of solutions reduce one’s feeling of competence and self-efficacy.

Design methodology

Human information processes

Design methodology:

aims to provide the designer with a well-structured procedure and support in applying available design techniques.


Theories of human thinking and acting in complex environments. -



  • develops and applies theories about human behaviour in different contexts
network of designing
Network of designing
  • designing as a form of complex problem solving in an environment with various interconnected influences
  • understanding design needs to ‘identify’ this network of designing. That means design research has to encompass the various fields
an integrated research approach
An integrated researchapproach

Empirical level

Applied level

Theoretical level

Integration of proven concepts and modification by the empirical data

empirical evaluationof theoriesand methods

adaptation and integration of theoretical concepts

adaptation and development ofmethods

human-centred design methodology

Evaluation of hypotheses about the thinking and acting processes

Adaptation of existing methods and development of new methods

project mental models in design teams
Project: Mental models in design teams


  • How do mental models as individual unique constructions develop during designing?


  • How do design teams establish common mental models?How do design teams integrate different mental models?When and how do design teams modify mental models?

Organizational context

  • How efficient is the use of a guideline supporting the adequate use of mental models in design practice?