Addressing cognitive challenges in design? a review on existing approaches

DS 94: Proceedings of the Design Society: 22nd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED19)

Year: 2019
Editor: Wartzack, Sandro; Schleich, Benjamin; Gon
Author: Ning, Weining; Goodman-Deane, Joy; Clarkson, P.John
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Cambridge
Section: Methods of design research
DOI number:
ISSN: 2220-4342


Insufficient design often causes challenges to users on a cognitive level, hindering them from interacting with products smoothly. There is a lack of effective design tools and supporting materials that can help designers to understand human cognition and how it affects the way that users experience and use products and services. This paper aims to identify current approaches that can be applied to address this issue, and to examine their strengths and weaknesses. This helps to identify future directions for developing and improving cognitive design supports. A literature review was conducted of research publications in the fields of both design and cognition. Four key approaches are identified: cognitive design principles/guidelines, the demand-capability approach, cognitive walkthrough and cognitive modelling. Their strengths and weaknesses are analyzed from a design standpoint. The paper also analyses the underlying causes of the insufficient uptake of cognitive design approaches by designers.

Keywords: Cognitive challenge, Inclusive design, User centred design, Design methods


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