2013/011 - Understanding Thoroughness as an Emergent Feature in Graphic Design Work
2013 IIEMCA Conference, Waterloo, Canada, August 05-08, 2012.
We present an ethnomethdological (EM) study of graphic design using recorded materials of designers working in a small agency. We demonstrate how design progresses through social and material engagement with a ‘brief’, other materials and the use of technologies. As designers develop their designs they are seen to be thorough in their assessments of the quality and appropriateness of these designs as they relate choices, material features of the designs and a general ‘look and feel’ to an endogenously produced and evolving relevant context. This context is a situated discursive production using provided materials, the designs themselves and designer knowledge to relate, often via aesthetic language, the designs to known and envisioned aspects of consumers, situations and clients. Design research, save for an exception in some branches of computing, is largely ignorant of EM while it promotes the systematic use of methods. EM studies like ours can bring a fresh understanding of design practice that shows amongst other things, that certainly in small projects, a lack of structured methods does not equal lack of thoroughness. We finish by discussing our findings in relation to the ‘agile programming’ movement, the work of Donald Schön and prevailing ideas within the design community.