This post is really just a collection of thoughts stemming from my last thesis paper meeting. I’m still mostly reading at this point and sort of framing the argument along the way.

My original inquiry had to do with the leap of faith from design research to design concepts. This has led me to a focus on design process and how designers approach problems.

Some ways of shaping my argument include:

  • Can we teach the “black art” of design to non-designers?
  • Ways for non-designers to become comfortable with the design process.
  • If we can’t talk about design, how do we tell it to others?
  • Clients are OK with visual design and product design, so why is everyone so freaked out by interaction design?
  • Why do people want models? Process?

Some recent great quotes I’ve pulled from How Designers Think include:

  • “None of the writers quoted here offer any evidence that designers actually follow their map.”
  • “It is often not possible to say which bit of the problem is solved by which bit of the solution.”

One idea that has some resonance with me has been that the actual design process cannot be explained, and that every attempt is a reflective act that makes the process seem more logical than it actually is. This may be the problem I have had with trying to define the design process all along, as I recognized mid-process that I couldn’t explain how things were moving forward while acknowledging that the progress was in fact fruitful.

I’m not sure if that notion makes the step-by-step lists for plowing through the design process a useful act of faith or just completely useless to non-designers. Perhaps I will gain more insight the more I read and digest.

After finishing How Designers Think, I plan to move onto The Reflective Practitioner in earnest, and also Thoughtful Interaction Design, which arrived today.

So why do people want to model the design process? It’s complicated and mysterious, and like me, people want to understand. But what if the answer turns out to be, for all our effort, we can’t understand the design process, at least not in full?