Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

UXPA - Design for Meaning, Design for Doing

It was another hot trip to London for me this week for UXPA’s event Design for Meaning, Design for Doing.

Hosted at City University I was very happy to sit in their air conditioned lecture theatre to listen to our speakers.

First up was Prof Joseph Giacomin from Brunel University, who spoke about Design for Meaning.

First you have to understand what meaning means. He has done extensive research on this and although different disciplines might use different words he thinks that meaning breaks into three different areas.

  • Function - how it works
  • Ritual - the action involved
  • Myth - the tradition behind it

There is also the way meaning changes with context and with time.

As designers he thinks we have become too focused on the function of a thing and so might be missing something from our designs by forgetting both ritual and myth.

He also suggests we should think more about where products sit within context and time. Are we at the start where our product is a toy for a rich few or has it moved from a luxury to a necessity?

After a short break we then had Lucy Stewart from Snook and Dan Watson from SnTech talk about Design for Doing.

They have been working on a product called Pisces to help fishermen better deteremine what types of fish they will catch. This is a massive issue for the fishing industry which is highly impacted by policy and restrictions created by governments. But fisherman are also very risk averse and need proof that a new technology will actually work.

Lucy took us through some of the research they did with the fishermen themselves to get a better understanding of not only if Pisces would work for them, but the rest of the services that would be needed for it to work well, for instance how the fishermen interact with the devices, charge them and get help if one stops working.

Both talks, while very different, were highly interesting and reminded us that there is always more to learn in design, whether it is a new theory or method.

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