The joys of cardboard

Yes, I did not write anything yesterday. I suppose I should start upping the blog’s excitement to build up a devoted fan base, but let’s face it, why would I want a devoted fan base.

So what happened yesterday that kept me so busy?

I gave a presentation (Yay!). This was supposed to have the twofold benefit of encouraging people to prototype to “define the design space” and also remind people that I do exist, I do care about usability and I am an exciting, rewarding and entertaining speaker.

Any of you people out there want I an exciting, rewarding and entertaining speaker? What, neither of you? Oh well, keep me in mind when you want to enthuse about the joys of cardboard.

Joys of cardboard, you enquire, what could possibly be joyous about cardboard? Well, plenty. It’s low-tech, it’s cheap, it’s flexible, and it’s perfect for rapid prototyping. With the aid of a lot of Sellotape and a Stanley knife you can create almost anything. Of course, it won’t work, (well, unless it’s a cardboard chair or a speedway track for rats), but it gives people ideas. And it clarifies your own ideas. And you can do fitting trials on it.

(Fitting trial, what on earth is a fitting trial, you enquire, that merely recalls the days when my sister was practising her dress-making skills upon me and involved me standing still for long periods while pins were inserted in random places including my flesh). A fitting trial is a practical test to check what can or cannot be reached by the population that you are dealing with. So, you set the percentage of the population that you expect to use your device, age, sex, disability etc, and you check to see if they can, can that unusually tall chap see the screen? Can that bent over elderly person reach the buttons? And so on and so on. There is a useful book called Bodyspace by a chap called Stephen Pheasant that covers much of this. It’s physical ergonomics and is important when you’re designing a real object to be used in the workspace. Of course, it can apply to virtual objects too. Are they accessible by the colour blind? Are the buttons big enough for clumsy fingers… and so on and so on.

Anyway, as I stated earlier, my main purpose in hymning the joys of cardboard (and paper) were to try and get people to start thinking and expressing their design before they became engrossed in coding it.

Did it work? I think you know the answer to that, no, no and again no. But I did start reading a coursera course book. The course is Design: Creation of Artefacts in Society (so obviously I’d find that interesting) and the book is by the guy who produced the course Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society or go to: OR

I like design ideas. I doubt that I’ll actually do the course, but I have this sad weakness for education. New stuff to learn. Wow!, How much can I sign up for. Yay. And it’s free! I’m like a small child offered free sweets – keep stuffing them into all my pockets and my jumper until the scatter all over the floor and I eat so many I’m sick and have to lie down in a darkened room for a while.

But I do hope that I can get people to re-design their way of designing. Even a little bit. Even just to be clear about what they’re taking for granted and what question they’re asking.

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