“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
— R. Buckminster Fuller
It is easier for us to break a habit by redesigning our environment, rather than expending willpower to resist it.
Taking this as our point of reference, how might we elevate environmental design as a simple, logical, creative and self-directed exercise to promote personal and group wellbeing?
To clarify, this is not limited to our physical environment, but extends through to the emotional, intellectual, relational and spiritual.
How may we extend the practice of designing The Digital Object or Experience in consideration of our audiences environment?
This figure is from the wonderful textbook “Universal Principles of Design.” This figure, in turn, is an adaptation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The triangle diagram represents two things: the five criteria of good design and the magnitude of their importance. Let's break them down one by one.
The raison d’être. Can the thing do what it is supposed to do? Seriously, check. Did you just build something that can’t do anything? Be warned: being functional does not equate to sparse nor does it mean minimal.
Can it do it multiple times without exploding? Will it work in the environment it was intended for? Did you create a screen door for a submarine?
Can the intended audience pick it up and start using it? Does it make sense? Does it fit into it’s environment?
This is a popular stopping point. There’s more.
This is where things start to get interesting: can your users become experts with it? Can users improve and grow with this object; progressing into mastery?
How can this thing be more? Is it beautiful? Does this thing allow for flexibility; for emergent behaviour? Are you limiting people or setting them free?
The app, an Object, allows the user (Agent) to navigate a specific Environment. What some might consider a problem space. The Environment is both map and territory.