Posted by: bbannan | May 2, 2009

Design solutions is thinking out of the box – John

Reaching ones goal is often fraught with struggle. Most often time your original vision can be clouded with thick smoke. Instructional designer must think out of the box if they are to design and innovate in their effort to change design direction. They must open their mind to finding solutions in unusual places and people. I was led to this must read article titled “Design Meets Research” by Debbie Millman and Mike Bainbridge, while thinking and researching our discussion on “Design Thinking”. You all need to read this.

I was amazed that this article covers many of topical issues we have been exposed to in our immersion experience thus far. One of the designers in this article jumped up and said, “I know what to do! Let’s get Marta in here and see what she thinks!” moment remind me of Dr B. Bannan “Pizza delivery guy solution to a design problem” and confirms what the authors of this article called: “Attitudinal distinction of the design via any consumer—whether that person is the logical target market of that particular product or not.”

Tim Brown of MIT Sloan Management once said “Insights are about getting out into the world, connecting with new things. Designers see the world as a source of innovation, not just validation”.

Designer in general has a tremendous advantage to impact and change the world, if they are determined to design, innovate and re-invent themselves and their products.



  1. This article reminded me of the Simpson’s episode where Homer financially ruins his brother, Herb, by designing a car for the everyman. What they both learn is that the true everyman is neither as creative, nor realistic, as marketers would hope.

    It’s difficult to know what to do when user research fails. Our book (as well as the one used in EDIT 590) cites countless examples of ways that research can go wrong. You can slice and dice the sample the wrong way. You could misinterpret the information you collect. You can even face one of the toughest challenges of all – when users lie. Enticingly, while this article weighs the pros and cons of a few approaches (including ethnographic research, a less visited option), it does not actually state the need to triangulate research to reduce these problems. While the authors seems very critical of user research, they appear to be promoting research earlier in the process rather than saying it simply doesn’t work, and promoting ‘rules’ to asking users rather than simply saying ‘don’t try’. Perhaps she is simply sensitive to an issue which plagues all design, clients that do not appreciate research without conducting it themselves.

    The title of ‘design meets research’ is a bit strange to me, since all design – even graphic design – is based in research. This article is it came from the website of AIGA, a professional association for graphic designers (like me). There is a fair amount of synergy between graphic design and instructional design. Some of the similarities that come to mind in light of this article are:

    • Both fields are driven by a need – often an informational need
    • Both fields rely on research, especially user research — For graphic design, knowing your users is vital as it determines every aspect of your approach to the problem. If your market is 18-24, you may want to go viral or use twitter. If your market is over 60, even marketing online may be a poor strategy. Even the colors or typography used in a design are born from the target market’s culture, beliefs, and preferences.
    • Both fields optimize information rather than produce it from scratch
    • Both fields have to deal with clients, that often don’t understand, or appreciate, what we do

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