The Research-Practice Gulf

There is a great gulf between the research community and practice. Moreover, there is often a great gull between what designers do and what industry needs. We believe we know how to do design, but this belief is based more on faith than on data, and this belief reinforces the gulf between the research community and practice.

I find that the things we take most for granted are seldom examined or questioned. As a result, it is often our most fundamental beliefs that are apt to be wrong.

In this talk, deliberately intended to be controversial. I examine some of our most cherished beliefs. Examples: design research helps create breakthrough products; complexity is bad and simplicity good; there is a natural chain from research to product.

Don Norman was recently named by Business Week as "one of the world's most influential designers." Although he is not a designer, his studies and books on design theory coupled with his extensive academic and industry experience help companies produce enjoyable and effective products and services. Norman brings a systems approach to design, arguing that great design must touch every aspect of a company. He is well known for his classic books “The Design of Everyday Things” and “Emotional Design” “The well-rounded product,” says Norman, “will enhance the heart as well as the mind, being a joy to behold as well as to use.” He is the co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, professor at Northwestern University and has been Vice President of Apple Computer and an executive at Hewlett Packard. His next book. Living with Complexity, will be published in September 2010. here he argues that the quest for simplicity is misguided because complexity is both good and necessary: our lives are complex, and our tools must match the tasks we do. What we need are things we can understand and master, for once mastered, even complex-looking things are simple.

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