When people use a design outcome, they operate it to achieve a goal. Operating a design outcome involves a series of steps. When someone uses a concert poster, they may go through the following steps to use it:

  1. See a concert poster from across the train station
  2. Notice the image, coloring, and headline typography
  3. Walk up to the poster
  4. Read the details about the concert
  5. Grab a phone from the purse, check the calendar for availability, buy tickets

All design outcomes are operated/used. Communication Design outcomes communicate information when used. Services and industrial design outcomes involve physical operation, such as using a hammer or using a cane to walk.

Some design outcomes require instructions to know how to use them. Signs posted at Zion National Park direct visitors so they know how to get to a specific trail. In this case, people are operating/using Zion National Park.

Researching Operation

When designers research an outcome’s operation, they gain insights into the sequence of steps required to use a design. This research can reveal that a design outcome is hard to use because its procedure is very complicated. It can also reveal that the design’s operation could make it hard or even impossible for different people to use.

Questions to Ask

  • What are the steps required to use the outcome?
  • Who is limited by the way this outcome is intended to be used?
  • What are the intended steps to take when using the design outcome?
  • How can the design outcome be operated in ways it was not intended to be used?

Look For…

  • When people use a design outcome and get frustrated.
  • Overt instructions that direct people on how to use a design outcome.



Updated: June 21, 2024 10:56 pm
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