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Experiencing design. What were they thinking? (20 Sep 2005)
Interface designers can often gain insight from past efforts to solve a problem. Imagine that Iíve been asked to design a new interface for some task, to replace an existing interface. I might find that my user population is a small group of experts who have only limited time to meet with me to talk about the new design effort. Design documents for the existing interface are nowhere to be found. Whatever the reasons for the lack of information, itís useful for several reasons to analyse the existing interface: it may improve my understanding of the task; it will have flaws and shortcomings to avoid in a future design; it may suggest partial solutions that I hadnít considered.

This kind of analysis is a staple of HCI research and practice, and yet it is by no means easy to work backward from a finished artifact to the designerís rationale.
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