The makeup of contexts and people creates constraints for designing. If a designer hopes to create an effective product, service, or system, the designer must create outcomes that will function within conditions in the context and align with the person’s makeup. If a design object is formatted so the intended user can not operate it, the person will likely have a bad experience. When designers create physical products, size is a significant concern. If a design outcome is too large to fit on a shelf or to go through a doorway, the outcome may even become entirely useless for some people. Design outcomes whose form and function align with context factors and people’s physical and relational makeup are more likely to achieve their intended purposes and facilitate positive experiences.

Designing with Constraints Research

Defining constraints and identifying alignments before a design is implemented enables designers to create products, services, and systems that function within real parameters and in relevant ways for users. Here are a few constraints and alignments-design decision pairings that demonstrate this concept.

Weather in Maui

Constraint: The weather in Maui is pleasant year-round, though it rains once a day for a short stint.

Design Decision: The airport check-in counter can be located outside, though a cover will be needed for the rain.

Cell Signal Strength in Concert Venues

Constraint: Cellular signals are found to be very weak in a concert venue and there’s no wifi.

Design Decision: An app that allows concertgoers to post their experiences may not be a great way to publicize the band’s tour because the signal is spotty.

Aging, Eyesight, and Apps

Constraint: Older adults’ eyesight is not as strong as younger adults’ eyesight.

Design Decision: When designing an app, make sure the font size can be adjusted so older adults can read.

Electrical Outlets in Europe

Alignment: Both the Netherlands and France use the same electrical outlet type.

Design Decision: We can buy one adapter for all customers who travel on the European tour next summer.

Dennis Cheatham

Associate Professor, Communication Design

Miami University

Updated: June 25, 2024 7:41 am
Select Your Experience