One of the central problems and corresponding challenges facing the multi-disciplinary field of networked and virtual organizations has been in the construction of theory-grounded, research-based taxonomies for prescribing what particular strategies and approaches should be employed when, how, and in what combination to be most effective and efficient for specific business domains, organizational structures, and enterprise- wide performance objectives.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Interactivity Design: Understanding the affordances of the computer-human interrelationship from the user’s perceptual/cognitive experience; identifying and specifying the dynamic time/space transactions between the user, information, and media elements—creating a graphical user—environmental interface to navigate within that is intuitive, comprehensible, robust, and engaging. The core artifact of interactivity design is the user interface. Principal ingredients of the interface design are signage, cueing, mnemonics, style/layout conventions, and the ambient conceptual metaphor.
Amberfication Paradox: Static information resources, media representations, and human-technology communication systems become non-dynamic as soon as they are produced. The paradox is that the more quickly these fixed entities are produced—the quicker they become conceptually and substantively sealed in amber and disconnected from modification, alteration, correction, and change (i.e., off the information grid) as utilities and resources.
Information Design: Understanding and clearly mapping the full scope, sequence, concepts, principles, examples, and underlying inheritance structure of the declarative and procedural facets of the content domain (i.e., the infosphere). Information design is essentially concerned with understanding the purpose, the organization, the context, and interrelationships within a knowledge domain: the “envisioning” of information to be communicated.
User-Experience Design (UXD): User-centered (a cognitive/perceptual term) and usage-centered (a behavioral/functional term) are post-modern design descriptors often arbitrarily or ambiguously defined and interchangeably used and mis-used. In the context of 21st century communication product design theory and practice, user-centered design focuses on constructing a user experience and environment with physical and virtual affordances that are manipulable, controllable, customizable, and adaptable from the essential perspective of the conceptual model of the user. This means both (a) the user’s own internal metamodel of their own goal-directed processes, activities and contextual (i.e., socio-psychological and physical) environment, and (b) the designer’s representational model of the user-activity-environmental experience, with the former driving and superceding the latter in the design solution. Thus the conceptual model of the learner becomes the superordinate principle guiding the design process and learning outcomes (i.e., the highest level of the prescriptive taxonomy).
Usability: The degree to which human-technological systems, artifacts, and products are appropriately and efficiently designed for the user (i.e., ease of use) is the indication of that product’s usability. Various heuristics and criteria can provide an objective, empirical basis against which to measure and evaluate the level and degree of design efficiency corresponding to the key construct of usability.
Usage-Centered Design: Usage-centered design focuses primarily on the functional goal-based behavior of learners and structuring activities, procedures, processes, and corresponding affordances to optimize the effectiveness of the learner to efficiently accomplish those intrinsic goals. In both user-experience and usage-centered approaches, however, the conventionally-deterministic structure of the communication content and the underlying information architecture of the knowledge domain are secondary considerations while the user’s own conceptual model and intrinsic goal-driven behaviors provide the guiding blueprint for the system-product design solution.
Media Design: Media design involves the physical, functional, and operational manifestation of human factors design. The media design is the tangible, concrete, tactile-audio-visual-sensori-motor experiential “front end” of the human-technology system. Understanding the multi-sensory nature of the user’s experience; applying human learning, memory, messaging, and perception/cognition to produce effective, aesthetic multiple media that provide cognitive/perceptual/physical affordances to improve human-machine system communications for specific audiences and organizational requirements.
Human Factors Engineering: Human factors is an emerging applied design field that entails a synthesis of cross-disciplines from classical ergonomics (i.e., the science of work, system-person interaction, and functional/operational performance needs), and newer research gleaned from the allied fields of cognitive science, human physiological psychology, perception, learning, memory and brain behavior science, interaction/interactivity design, product design, media design, communication design, and information design. Human factors engineering recognizes (1) the intensely cross-disciplinary nature of the human-technology system designer’s role and the transcending cultural, economic, societal, and geopolitical importance of information utilization and knowledge generation, and (2) the field’s creative, protean, and dynamically-hybrid “human-centered, user-centered, and usage-centered” systems approaches that strives to integrate existing multi-disciplinary domains (i.e., change management, computer and information science, informatics and systems theory to management philosophy, law and ethics, human cognition and perception, human resources, usability design, industrial design, and ergonomics).
Computer-Human Interface Design: Computer-human interface design consists of the effective functional synthesis and operational integration of three overlapping sub-design domains: information design, interaction design, and media design (See additional definitions of these terms in this article section). Each of these three layers must be clearly defined, represented, and manifested in the user interface design solution. These three sub-design realms/components are synthesized holistically by the conceptual usability glue of the principles of universal design. User interface affordances can be evaluated through usability heuristics and the degree to which these principles have been effectively applied and realized in the user experience—providing a coherent, logically-consistent, and robust (i.e., intuitive, accessible, easy-to-learn, and use) systems design.