Bringing Design to Software


Bringing Design to Software

Edited by Terry Winograd

Stanford University and Interval Research Corporation

With John Bennett, Laura De Young, and Bradley Hartfield

ISBN: 0-201-85491-0. 310 pp. Addison-Wesley. 1996


Introduction - Terry Winograd

Our goal is to improve the practice of software design, through thinking about design from a broader perspective, and exploring how lessons from all areas of design can be applied to software.... Software design is a user-oriented field, and as such will always have the human openness of disciplines such as architecture and graphic design, rather than the hard-edged formulaic certainty of engineering.

Terry Winograd is Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University where he has developed an innovative program in software design. Winograd completed much of his work on this book at Interval Research Corporation, where he is a regular consultant. He is a member of the advisory board of the Association for Software Design, the editorial board of Human-Computer Interaction, and the national board of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.

1. A Software Design Manifesto - Mitchell Kapor

The most important social evolution within the computing professions would be to create a role for the software designer as a champion of the user experience.... What is design? ... It's where you stand with a foot in two worlds---the world of technology and the world of people and human purposes---and you try to bring the two together.

Profile: Software Design and Architecture

Mitchell Kapor was the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. Presently, he is an adjunct professor in the Media Laboratory at MIT, developing courses on software design, and is chair of the advisory board of the Association for Software Design. He is also a cofounder and board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

2. Design of the Conceptual Model - David Liddle

Software design is the act of determining the user's experience with a piece of software. It has nothing to do with how the code works inside, or how big or small the code is. The designer's task is to specify completely and unambiguously the user's whole experience.... The most important thing to design properly is the user's conceptual model. Everything else should be subordinated to making that model clear, obvious, and substantial. That is almost exactly the opposite of how most software is designed.

David Liddle is president of Interval Research Corp., in Palo Alto, California. He was a founder of Metaphor Computer Systems and was a vice-president at IBM. He is Consulting Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, where he teaches courses on human-computer interaction and on the computing industry. He is also on the board of directors of a number of prominent software companies, is chair of the advisory board of the Santa Fe Institute, and serves on the engineering advisory committees at Stanford University and the University of Michigan.

Profile: The Alto and the Star

3. The Role of the Artist-Designer - Gillian Crampton Smith and Philip Tabor

Interaction design cannot dispense with scientific method and engineering knowledge; indeed, familiarity with computing technology is as essential to an interaction designer as familiarity with building technology is to an architect.... [but] interaction design is more of an art than a science. Its ultimate subject matter---human experience and subjective response---is inherently as changeable and unfathomable as the ocean.

Profile: Kid Pix

Gillian Crampton Smith, originally a graphic designer, is the Professor of Computer Related Design at the Royal College of Art in London. She consults on interaction design for companies such as Interval Research, Apple, and Philips.


Philip Tabor teaches at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College, London, where he has served as director. He has worked in architecture studios in the United States and in England, for 10 years as a partner in Edward Cullinan Architects. He is editor of the Journal for Architectural and Planning Research and on the editorial board of Architectural Research Quarterly.



4. Design Languages - John Rheinfrank and Shelley Evenson

Design languages have been used to design things as diverse as products, buildings, cities, services, and organizations. They are often used unconsciously, arising out of the natural activity of creation and interaction with created things. Yet, when consciously understood, developed, and applied, design languages can build on and improve this natural activity, and can result in dramatically better interactions, environments, and things of all kinds.

Profile: Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines

John Rheinfrank is a senior strategist at Doblin Group, in Chicago, where he directs programs that focus on decision strategy and on breakthrough product and service development. Prior to joining Doblin Group, he was a Senior Vice-President at Fitch, an international design consulting firm, where he was cofounder of the Exploratory Design Laboratory (EDL), an interdisciplinary team conducting project-based design research.

Shelley Evenson is a design strategist at Doblin Group. Originally trained as a graphic designer, she has worked in interaction design for the past decade, with a focus on creating compelling user experiences. Prior to joining Doblin Group, she was a Vice-President at Fitch and was cofounder of EDL. Her work has been published by the ACM, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the American Center for Design.

5. The Consumer Spectrum - Paul Saffo

We are a frighteningly adaptable species. A good tool should adjust itself to the user, but good tools are scarce, and so we have learned to adapt ourselves to all but the most awkward of gizmos.... Of course, there are limits to what computers can expect their human companions to put up with. We do not use tools simply because they are friendly. We use tools to accomplish tasks, and we abandon tools when the effort required to make the tool deliver exceeds our threshold of indignation.

Profile: Mosaic and the World Wide Web

Paul Saffo is a director of the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, California. He writes about the social and economic aspects of emerging digital technologies for numerous magazines and newspapers. A book of his essays, Dreams in Silicon Valley, has been published in Japan.



6. Action-Centered Design - Peter Denning and Pamela Dargan

The standard engineering design process produces a fundamental blindness to the domains of action in which the customers of software systems live and work. The connection between measurable aspects of the software and the satisfaction of those customers is, at best, tenuous. We propose a broader interpretation of design that is based on observing the repetitive actions of people in a domain and connecting those action-processes to supportive software technologies.

Profile: Business-Process Mapping

Peter Denning is Chair of the Computer Science Department and Associate Dean for Computing in the School of Information Technology and Engineering at George Mason University. As chair of the publications board of the Association for Computing Machinery, he led the development of a far-reaching electronic publishing plan and of new copyright policies for cyberspace.


Pamela A. Dargan is a Senior Software Engineer for a nonprofit company in Washington, D.C. that provides consulting services to the government. She has been involved in all aspects of software development for nearly two decades, and currently designs open system architectures for large government software acquisitions.


7. Keeping it Simple - John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

The future of design in information technologies lies not in developing means of increasingly full re-presentation, but rather in allowing increasing amounts to be underrepresented; not by increasing what is said, but rather by helping people to leave more unsaid.

Profile: Microsoft Bob

John Seely Brown is Chief Scientist of the Xerox Corporation, and is Director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). He was a founder of the Institute for Research on Learning, and serves on the advisory boards for a number of design and education programs, including at MIT, Carnegie-Mellon University, the University of Michigan, and the New School for Social Research.


Paul Duguid is a consultant at Xerox PARC and at the the University of California, Berkeley. He has written numerous papers jointly with Brown on situated learning and professional practice, for publications ranging from Organizational Scienceto Educational Technology.



8. The Designer's Stance - David Kelley and Bradley Hartfield

The designer has a passion for doing something that fits somebody's needs, but that is not just a simple fix. The designer has a dream that goes beyond what exists, rather than fixing what exists.

Profile: IDEO

David Kelley is a Professor in the Design Division of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stanford University. He is also CEO and founder of IDEO Product Development, America's largest engineering and design consultancy.



Bradley Hartfield is a software-design consultant and has been a lecturer at Stanford University, where he has played a major role in developing Stanford's program in Human-Computer Interaction Design.



9. Reflective Conversation with Materials - Donald Schön and John Bennett

There is no direct path between the designer's intention and the outcome. As you work a problem, you are continually in the process of developing a path into it, forming new appreciations and understandings as you make new moves.

Profile: The Apple Computer Interface Design Project

Donald Schön is Professor Emeritus of Urban Design at MIT. He is best known for his studies of professional practice. He has also written books on other aspects of social organization and technology, including Technology and Change (1967), Beyond the Stable State (1971), Frame Reflection (1994), and, with Chris Argyris, Organizational Learning (1978).


John Bennett retired from a long career in IBM research to become an independent consultant, specializing in building partnership and teamwork in multi-disciplinary design teams. He has been active in the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), where he served as conference technical program cochair and on the Advisory Board.


10. Cultures of Prototyping - Michael Schrage

The great ethnographies of prototyping have yet to be written. However, it is demonstrably clear that fundamental differences in corporate prototyping cultures lead to qualitatively and quantitatively different products. Understanding those fundamental differences is essential for any organization that wants to transform its new-product development.

Profile: HyperCard, Director, and Visual Basic

Michael Schrage both writes and consults on the ways technology reshapes how people interact. He is a research associate at MIT's Sloan School of Management and at The Media Lab. He is the author of No More Teams (1995), a book about collaboration and collaborative media.


11. Footholds for Design - Shahaf Gal

In a design environment, knowledge is generated, enacted, and reflected on in an ongoing process between the materials and the participants' intentions and attached meanings. Learning occurs when users create concrete things, such as drawings and models, based on their knowledge, and then reevaluate that knowledge based on what they have just learned.

Profile: The Spreadsheet

Shahaf Gal directs the Computers for Instruction Department of the Centre for Educational Technology in Tel Aviv, the largest educational computer research and development company in Israel.



12. Design as Practiced - Donald Norman

When you are asked to solve a problem, look beyond it. Ask why that particular problem arose in the first place. Search beyond the technical: Question the business model, the organizational structure, and the culture. The path to a solution seldom lies in the question as posed: the path appears only when we are able to pose the right question.

Profile: The Design of Everyday Things

Donald Norman is Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group, responsible for managing advanced technology and research for Apple Computer, and Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego.



13. Organizational Support for Software Design - Laura De Young

Software design is an art as well as a science. Designing products that meet the needs of customers requires insight, creativity, knowledge, skill, and discipline.... An organization can do much to support the process and to help ensure success. By the same token, the organization can impede the design process, stifle creativity, and damn a project to the software hell of producing a product that is unfit for customer use.

Profile: Quicken

Laura De Young is a cofounder of Windrose Consulting in Palo Alto, California. She has done software design in a wide variety of organizational settings, has observed and advised software-producing companies on their development processes, and conducts workshops on creativity in software design.


14. Design for People at Work - Sarah Kuhn

In the excitement over the seductive world of personal computing, it is easy to forget that the experience that most people have of computers in the workplace may not be liberating.... Most people who encounter computer-based automation at work do not choose the software with which they work, and have comparatively little control over when and how they do what they do. For them, the use of computers can be an oppressive experience, rather than a liberating one.

Profile: Participatory Design

Sarah Kuhn is Assistant Professor in the Department of Policy and Planning at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. In addition to her work on social aspects of workplace computer systems, she has developed courses on software design, including a studio-based course in collaboration with Mitchell Kapor and William Mitchell at MIT.


Reflection - Terry Winograd