Limit Usability -> 0
Tom Chi  

Technical Limitations

August 26th, 2005 by Tom Chi :: 10 Comments

Being a designer is a great job because ostensibly you are paid to dream. You can spend half the day coming up with inventive, powerful, world-changing ideas, and package them into great design. Now the other half of the day… that’s where things are a little more complicated. Technical limitations abound — there are so many to consider that it’s easy to forget that technology is about making things *possible*.

This week let’s talk about some of the limitations we’ve faced in design work, and the ways we’ve worked through them or how we’d design differently if we could make them disappear…

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Kevin Cheng  

An Approach To Optimal Design Within Technical Constraints

August 30th, 2005 by Kevin Cheng :: 5 Comments

> “I don’t remember being forced to accept compromises, but I’ve willingly accepted constraints.” - Charles Eames

As a designer, I’m a member of a product team. While a great part of a designer’s role is to do its name sake - _design_ - there’s a significant part that’s in the follow through. Following through means not just throwing a design over the wall to development and then throwing a tantrum when it comes out all wrong. Following through is working with the technical team to see that vision come to fruition. The challenge lies in coming up with the best design within the constraints set out.

I’ve observed (and practiced) a number of design processes which were less than optimal. In some cases, the designer has sufficient technological knowledge that they cripple themselves (I think I called it [shooting ourselves in the foot][9]) with the their own perceived constraints. Other times, the designer may set out with a fairly idealistic design, but the end product gets nowhere close to that vision.

So after a few hard lessons, I’ve come up with a personal approach which seems to have worked better. I think one of the keys is the initial design. When I first approach a problem, I design as though technological constraints did not exist _within reason_. What’s within reason? That’s a judgement call. As [one commenter pointed out][10], without technological constraints, the user could just think what they want, and the system would do it. That’s not very realistic though. I say it’s a judgement call for what is within reason because it depends on the device we’re designing for.

[9]: “Why Technology Matters but Shouldn’t”

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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?