Why Research-oriented Design Isn’t Design-oriented Research

Daniel Fallman


Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is the discipline concerned with the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems. Typically, HCI researchers do not primarily study existing technologies, styles of interaction, or interface solutions. On the contrary, one of the core activities in contemporary HCI is to design new technologies—prototypes—that act as vehicles through which the researchers’ ideas for novel and alternative solutions materialize and take on concrete shape.

Despite this situation, there is very little discussion in the field on HCI as design discipline and what the role of design is as an activity in the research process. This article is specifically about the element of design as currently manifest in HCI research. We dig deeper into HCI as a design discipline by suggesting, analyzing, and discussing what appears to be two competing traditions in the relationship between design and research; that of design-oriented research and research-oriented design.

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