Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Design Education: Moving beyond Form

Design students would benefit greatly from being challenged to provide a rationale for the choices made on the way to a design solution.

Design curiculums have for years focused on teaching design mostly from a form, technology and materials perspective. The opportunity in designing information products is to challenge design students to weight the value of adding or not adding a feature to a product. "Because we can" is not a suffiecent reason to add an additional feature.

Values need to be assigned to features in order to determine if including them would cost more than the value they would add. The hidden cost of added features range from: a delay at getting a product to market because shortage of parts, increased complexity for the user when operating the product, added expense thus a higher selling price potentially missing the target market just to name a few.

In order to ask design student to venture beyond form considerations would mean that the instructor would need to be an astute practioner able to provide the correct balance so that students gain the ability to weight the appropriatness when deciding on solutions that work not only on the form level but also business and usuability level. This is asking alot but professionals can grow to it.

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