Visible Language Special issue
Communication Design Failures: Function & interpretation scrutinized
A professor of perceptual psychology remarked that it was a pity that there was no journal of negative results or failures in experimentation. Without such a journal we continue to go down blind alleys and make avoidable mistakes. Because communication design encompasses so many variables, to say nothing of the problem of interpretation or communication reception, in a loose similarity, design projects are not unlike experiments. Yet like perceptual psychology and other social science disciplines, discussion of failure is rare. Even less than social science
whose research questions form grounding for experimentation, design practice is pragmatic and designers quickly move to the next project with little reflection on degree of success or reasons for failure. Communication design, whether print, screen-based or other media rarely publishes any reflection on projects, but relies on celebratory awards and professional presentations with little critical examination.
The aphorism we learn most from our mistakes is at play in this special issue. Visible Language invites academics, authors, design practitioners and frustrated users who have observed failure in their contact with communication design in its many guises, whether as a designer or as a user, to document and analyze failures. Don’t be timid-share your failure or that of another-be critical and analytical and develop positive criticism that might lead to new insights or even a remedy.
Guest editors: Dietmar Winkler and Sharon Poggenpohl
Two perspectives will be presented-that of designers and users. Reflection on experience, case studies and research are welcome.
- experience and reflection on failure
- failure as a unique or replicable situation
- measurement of failure or success
- function in communication design
- aesthetic failure and its gestalt
- failure in design process
- user developed workarounds
- interpretation issues
- cross-cultural issues
Examples of failure
You may also submit visual documentation of a vexing failure with brief commentary instead of an article. These examples will be credited to their observer/commentator and will be assembled as a collective portfolio.
Submission guidelines for papers
- abstracts are 250 words maximum
- articles are around 5,000 words and appropriately illustrated
- author guarantees that the work is previously unpublished
- all textual material has double-line space
- all visual material is sent at 300dpi as jpeg or tiff in separate files
Submission guidelines for examples
- brief description of failure
- nature of documentation
January 1, 2009 – Abstract deadline
January 15 – Review of abstracts
July 1 – Submission of full paper
July 15 – Review of submissions
November 1, 2009 – Target publication date, VL 43.3
If you would like to pass an idea to one of the editors for brief comment before proceeding, contact either Dietmar or Sharon.
dwinkler (at) umassd.edu
sharon (at) id.iit.edu
DESIGN RESEARCH NEWS Volume 13 Number 10 Oct 2008 ISSN 1473-3862
DRS Digital Newsletter http://www.designresearchsociety.org