putting people first

by experientia
by experientia
27 September 2013

An ethnography of interaction design practice (PhD dissertation)

Be the first to share
putting people first
by experientia

Delivering Design: Performance and Materiality in Professional Interaction Design is the title of the PhD dissertation Elizabeth Sarah Goodman defended last year to obtain the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Information Management and Systems at UC Berkeley. It is now available online.

Abstract

Interaction design is the definition of digital behavior, from desktop software and mobile applications to components of appliances, automobiles, and even biomedical devices. Where architects plan buildings, graphic designers make visual compositions, and industrial designers give form to three-dimensional objects, interaction designers define the digital components of products and services. These include websites, mobile applications, desktop software, automobiles, consumer electronics, and more. Interaction design is a relatively new but fast-growing discipline, emerging with the explosive growth of the World Wide Web. In a software-saturated world, every day, multiple times a day, billions of people encounter the work products of interaction design.

Given the reach of their profession, how interaction designers work is of paramount concern. In considering interaction design, this dissertation turns away from a longstanding question of design studies: How does interaction design demonstrate a special form of human thought? And towards a set of questions drawn from practice-oriented studies of science and technology: What kinds of objects and subjects do interaction design practices make, and how do those practices produce them?

Based on participant observation at three San Francisco interaction design consultancies and interviews with designers in California’s Bay Area, this dissertation argues that performance practices organize interaction design work. By “performance practices,” I mean episodes of storytelling and narrative that take place before an audience of witnesses. These performances instantiate — make visible and tangibly felt — the human and machine behaviors that the static deliverables seem unable on their own to materialize. In doing so, performances of the project help produce and sustain alignment within teams and among designers, clients, and developers.

In this way, a focus on episodes of performance turns our concerns from cognition, in which artifacts assist design thinking, to one of enactment, in which documents, spaces, tools, and bodies actively participating in producing the identities, responsibilities, and capacities of project constituents. It turns our attention to questions of political representation, materiality and politics. From this perspective, it is not necessarily how designers think but how they stage and orchestrate performances of the project that makes accountable, authoritative decision-making on behalf of clients and prospective users possible.

Be the first to share
Related Article
16 December 2014
World Development Report 2015 explores “Mind, Society, and Behavior”
WASHINGTON, December 2, 2014 — Development policies based on new insights into how people actually think and make decisions will help governments and civil society achieve development goals more effectively. A richer and more accurate …
Related Article
27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update
Why the world needs anthropologists - Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 - The second edition …
Related Article
27 November 2014
Deep dive into drinking occasions
Five years into his role as head of strategic insights at Heineken UK, Mick Doran believes that the brewing industry is learning valuable lessons from other FMCG sectors in becoming more consumer inspired and brand …
Related Article
27 November 2014
Are we viewing consumers as humans?
Underneath all the shopping, online searching, and purchasing is a human being who takes a particular action for very personal reasons, writes Jure Klepic in The Huffington Post. Those reasons maybe based on a response …
Related Article
27 November 2014
Intel, Tony Salvador, and design anthropology
Why would Intel need to conduct a tremendous amount of ethnographic research if all they are manufacturing are microchips? This short essay by Ioanis Hristodoulou eexamines Intel’s role in design anthropology on a worldwide context, exploring …
Related Article
21 November 2014
Everyday rituals and digital tech in the families of mobile workers
Quotidian Ritual and Work-Life Balance: An Ethnography of Not Being There Jo-Anne Richard and Paulina Yurman (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art) David Kirk and David Chatting (Culture Lab, Newcastle University) Paper presented at the …
Related Article
19 November 2014
A profile of Elizabeth F. Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google
As part of an on-going series profiling people, institutions and programs in the EPIC People community, Katharina Rochjadi of Swinburne University of Technology has now profiled Elizabeth F. Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google. "Conducting …
Related Article
7 November 2014
Technology-enabled navigation and mobility for people with sight loss
Getting around cities is a nerve-wracking experience for too many people, especially those living with sight loss. Too often it feels like public spaces and services – from parks to transport systems – are designed …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update

Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]

30 October 2014
The BancoSmart ATM by Experientia for UniCredit selected for ADI Design Index

Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically. Last year UniCredit and Experientia also […]

29 October 2014
Experientia at EPIC: UX transforming a financial institution

In September 2014 Experientia gave a presentation on working as UX professionals with financial institutions at the EPIC conference in New York. The paper is now available on the EPIC site in HTML and PDF versions (free registration req’d). Abstract Application of a user-centered approach rooted in ethnographic methodologies facilitates a major European bank’s transition […]

25 October 2014
Experientia president to speak at User Friendly 2014 in China

Experientia president Michele Visciola is one of the keynote speakers at User Friendly 2014, the annual user experience conference of UXPA China, to be held in Wuxi, China, 13 to 16 November. The theme of the 11th conference is the “new era of the experience economy,” thus underlining the importance of transferring UX concepts and […]

19 October 2014
Event: Why the world needs anthropologists

An upcoming event is encouraging anthropologists to “come out of their ivory towers” and work more closely with their colleagues in the field, in order to bridge the gap between “pure” and “applied” anthropology. The international symposium “Why the world needs anthropologists” (Facebook page) will be held on 5 December 2014 in Padua, Italy. Experientia […]

See all articles