Varying Methodologies of Design Research and their Role in Solving Design Problems

During the last three classes our design theory class, we have been discussing articles that explore the role of the designer in relation to their end-users– the person or group of people who will interact with the product, service or system. Each of the eight authors has differing opinions about the extent that end-users should be involved in the design process and the methodology that should be used.

Depending on the context, I see the value in both designing for end-users and in involving end-users in the design process. I believe that it boils down to the fact some methodologies are more effective for creating solutions to simple problems such as the design of a new blender’s aesthetic, while others are more effective for creating solutions to complex, societal problems, such as alleviating poverty. In order to distill my opinions about each authors’ methodology, I placed each author on a coordinate system with the horizontal axis labeled “design for” to “design with” and the vertical axis labeled “effective for creating solutions to simple problems” to “effective creating solutions for complex problems”. The following diagram is the result of the above process:

My first intuition was that better solutions to more complex problems would come about by including the end-users in the entire design process since this process would shed light on the context in which the problem exists. However, if the designer goes the co-design route described by Sanders, the end-users can bring in constraints they are unable to look past which limits ideation. I believe that removing the end-user from the certain stages of the ideation process will allow the designer to use the tools that they have curated to create the best overall design. It seems that designing at an “arm’s reach” may be the most effective way to create insightful designs to complex problems.