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Author: Yilmaz, Seda
Supervisor: Seifert, Collen M.; Andersen, Jan-Henrik
Institution: Design Science, The University of Michigan
This thesis describes research carried to investigate the evidence of design heuristics and their role in the design ideation process. Design heuristics are guidelines that help the designer to consider areas of possible designs that may not otherwise come to mind during the idea generation stage. The research is cross-disciplinary bringing findings, methods, and perspectives from cognitive psychology to product design domain. The exploratory research work undertaken has produced a list of design heuristics that are commonly used by designers in generating diverse concepts, inspiring design ideas that in turn affect the design outputs produced through the creative design process.
By combining content analysis of real-world examples of expert designs and investigation of expert and novice designers’ decision processes through case studies using designers’ sketching processes, a set of design heuristics was constructed as an aid for designers. A short list of heuristics was selected and validated through experimental studies with novices. It was shown that designers employed cognitive heuristics in order to enhance the variety, quality, and creativity of potential designs they generate during the ideation stage. Specific design heuristics helped the designer to explore the problem space of potential designs, leading to the generation of creative solutions. The effectiveness of instruction on design heuristics in solving design problems was also shown since, even for novice designers, a few minutes of text and illustration on heuristics led to designs reliably judged as more creative and diverse. The evidence suggested that research on design heuristics used in design problem solving can contribute to our understanding of cognitive processes in design and the assessment of design ability, help identify more effective instructional and computational tools to support designers at any level of expertise, and improve pedagogical approaches to teaching design.