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Visual Representation of Concepts: Exploring Users’ and Designers’ Concepts of Everyday Products

Publication Date
  • 120300 Design Practice And Management
  • Visual Representation Of Concepts
  • User
  • Artefact
  • Interaction
  • User Experience
  • Context Of Use
  • Knowledge Domain
  • Design


To address the question on how to enhance the design of user-artefact interaction at the initial stages of the design process, this study focuses on exploring the differences between designers and users in regard to their concepts of an artefact usage. It also considers that human experience determines people’s knowledge and concepts of the artefacts they interact with, and broadens or limits their concept of context of use. In this exploratory study visual representation of concepts is used to elicit information from designers and users, and to explore how these concepts are influenced by their individual experience. Observation, concurrent verbal and retrospective protocols and thematic interviews are employed to access more in depth information about users’ and designers’ concepts. The experiment was conducted with designers and users who were asked about their concepts of an everyday product. Three types of data were produced in each session: sketches, transcriptions from retrospectives verbal reports and observations. Through an iterative process, references about context, use and experience were identified in the data collected; this led to the definition of a coding system of categories that was applied for the interpretation of visuals and texts. The methodology was tested through preliminary studies. Their initial outcomes indicate that the main differences between designers’ and users’ concepts come from their knowledge domain, while main similarities are related to human experience as source that drives concept formulation. Cultural background has been found to influence concepts about product usability and its context of use. The use of visual representation of concepts with retrospective reports and interviews allowed access to insightful information on how human experience influence people’s knowledge about product usability and its context of use. It is expected that this knowledge contributes to the enhancement of the design of product usability.

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