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Course: Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society by Karl T. Ulrich
0001 Jun 1
7 minutes read

Course: Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society by Karl T. Ulrich

Articulate Problem statement

  • Crafting statement
    Top level problem

Total Quality Management

  • 5 Whys technique
    Hierarchy of different problem statements
    Whys -> General
    Hows -> Specific

IWWMW In what way might we

Defining and identifiying user needs

30-400 user needs

  • Connect with users
    • Observational methods
    • awkward situations
    • homemade solutions
    • visible frustrations
    • inefficiencies
    • errors
    • Interviews
    • one-on-one inteviews
    • Why choose X
    • What you like about X
    • What you don’t liek about X
    • What suggestions or improvements
  • Collect raw data
    • Visual data
    • verbatim comments from users
  • Code that data info needs statements
    • Needs statements are as specific as the raw data
    • Express needs without implying a design concept
    • Organize needs in clusters by similarity
    • Organize hierarchically, general to subordinet and secondary.
    • Flag the latent needs

Professional experties

Large group of users -> pool of needs

The Kano framework

  • Basic have (must have)
  • Linear
  • Don’t care
  • Delighters (latent needs)

** A list of needs for a personal hand cart. **

  • The Cart handles most terrain
    • The Cart handles rough urban terrain
    • The Cart cargo is retained over rough terrain
    • The Cart works on grass
    • The Cart works on sand
    • The Cart works on off-road trails
    • The Cart load remains stable when nudged or bumped
    • The Cart can traverse steps
    • The Cart can traverse curbs
    • The Cart remains stable over cross-sloped terrain
    • The Cart works in snow
    • The Cart works in icy conditions
  • The Cart goes where I go
    • The Cart works with all my travel modes
    • The Cart can be used inside a grocery store
    • The Cart works with my bike
    • The Cart can be locked up on the street
    • The Cart is allowed in fancy office buildings
    • The Cart can be taken on Amtrak
    • The Cart can be checked as luggage
  • The Cart navigates tight spots
    • The Cart can be used in crowded urban spaces
    • The Cart can be used on a crowded subway
    • The Cart fits through narrow gaps—e.g., doorways, between file cabinets
  • The Cart makes transporting stuff a lot easier than carrying it
    • The Cart requires minimal user effort
    • The Cart carries all my stuff in one trip
    • The Cart can be loaded quickly
    • The Cart can be unloaded quickly
    • The Cart (and stuff) can be easily loaded in the car
    • The Cart (and stuff) can be easily unloaded from the car
    • The Cart can be deployed in seconds
    • The Cart can be deployed without instruction
    • The Cart transports heavy stuff like file boxes
    • The Cart can be conveniently lifted and moved when loaded
  • The Cart fits unobtrusively into my life
    • The Cart consumes little of my living space when stored
    • The Cart is affordable
    • The Cart works well with my gear storage solution
  • The Cart is my single stuff-hauling solution
    • The Cart handles stuff of different sizes and shapes
    • The Cart transports a cooler
    • The Cart can transport a longish object like a collapsible chair
    • The Cart can be used as a baby jogger
    • The Cart holds the gear for a family of four at the beach
    • The Cart holds a 5-gallon water jug without spilling
  • The Cart evokes admiration from onlookers
    • The Cart is not geeky
    • The Cart is a rugged piece of gear, not a cheap gadget
    • The Cart is practically invisible when not loaded with stuff
    • The Cart is distinctive yet cool
  • The Cart is a mobile base of operations
    • The Cart provides a temporary “table top” when outdoors
    • The Cart accommodates little, easily lost items like pocketknives
    • and flashlights
    • The Cart identifies home base at the beach
    • The Cart provides a temporary seat
    • The Cart allows convenient access to all my stuff when loaded
    • The Cart rests in a stable position
  • The Cart protects my stuff
    • The Cart doesn’t collect water
    • The Cart protects my groceries from damage
    • The Cart keeps my stuff dry in the rain
    • The Cart keeps critters from my stuff when camping
    • The Cart protects my stuff from dirt and mud on the ground
  • The Cart enhances rather than detracts from my safety on
    the streets
  • The Cart can be uniquely identified as mine

Design concepts

How, based on gap definition and user needs

Concepts responsivet to:

  • Adress user needs
  • Challenges of cost
  • wow factor
  • eastetics and elegance appeal, butifull

Generate solition concepts, explore, design

  • hard work, exploration
  • open minded, open for luck
  • highly iterative

Group vs. Individuals in Idea Genertion (Brainstorming)

  • use hybrid process: individual phase plus group phase
  • set numerical goal


  • Divide ‘big design problem’ into subproblems
    • key/latent needs
    • sequence of user actions
    • function
  • solve sub problem
  • Integrate

function diagram, flow chart, has to do, flow materials energy symbols

Explore existing porducts

  • do extensive exploration on your own before looking at existing solutions
  • be caution about copiright and patents

1 point
2 point
3 point

Concept Selection Matrix method

  • User needs vs implementation cost
  • self documenting

Concept Selection Matrix consist of:

  • Columns
    • concepts
  • Rows
    • criteria
    • Key needs
    • Cost
    • wow factor
    • elegance + beauty

Concept Squaring Matrix


An approximation of the artifact on one or more dimensions of interest.

Prototypes types

  • Focused
  • Comprehensive
  • Analytical
  • Physical

Prototypes function

  • Answer questions
    • Solution, technology risk. Will it work ?
    • Need, market, user risk. Will users like it ?
    • Does it close the gap ?
  • Communicate
  • Serve as milestones in design process


  • Knifes
    • Scalpel
    • X-Acto knife
    • utility knife
  • Foamcore or Foam board
  • clay
    • model magic clay
  • Paper
    • illustration board
    • Bristol board
  • Adhesive
    • spray
    • white glue

Concept testing

Problem is gap in experience:

Concept test survey

Purchase Intent Survey

Forced choice survey

Forecast from survey


Aesthetics in Design

S2 framing hammer that was designed by Adam Design for Vonn and Bushnell

The beauty of this object attracts the user to spend some more time investigating what this is all about.
And even things like the use of the contrasting color for the shock absorbing rubber elements. And the way the fasteners are detailed. That attention to detail and care in the aesthetics of this object contribute to its commercialization. And also, even in a purely functional category like this, your users often take great pride in their tools, and the products they buy. And they think of them as objects of beauty.
There probably is no object so purely functional that it doesn’t benefit from some explicit attention to the aesthetics of the design.

Macbook Air is an elegant tool for the creative professional.
Thinkpad is a power tool for the business elite, dressed in an evening suit complete with a red bowtie.

It’s a mistake to think that, in a commercial context, there’s a single style that’s better than another style. Two designs can be equally well executed, and position their products very differently, as is the case here. And both can be great design.

  • Aesthetic response

    • Is a response to sensory information usually, visual.
    • It’s involuntary.
    • It’s immediate.

  • Why do aesthetics matter in design?

    • We value things that are beautiful, essentially, by definition.
    • First impressions matter.
    • Aesthetics of an artifact are a signal to the user of the other unobservable attributes of the artifact.

  • Theory of aesthetics

  • Evolutionary psychology

  • How to achieve good outcomes in creating beautiful artifacts
    • Work really hard.
    • Care and notice.
    • Iterate like crazy.
    • Bring on, or get on your team, people who have specific skills and capabilities related to aesthetics.


  • Are integrally connected to artifacts.
  • Themselves are artifacts
  • Are an identifier of the source of an artifact.
  • Reduce search costs for consumers.
  • Carry with them meaning that is often useful or valuable to users.

  • name is for just an artifact(product, service) or an organization?

  • what attributes are you trying to evoke ?

  • positive associations.

  • easy to say.

  • memorable

  • unambiguous spelling

  • you have a legal and practical right to use the name

Naming Process

Target Costing

Design thinking

Quality improvement

Plan Do Check Act Cycle
Walter Shewhart

Problem types

  • Design problems
  • System improvement problems

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