Back to all news

Design for Meaning, Design for Doing. June 2018.

UXPA Design / #uxpaDesign was sponsored by Futureheads and hosted by City, University of London.


It was another hot trip to London for me this week for UXPA’s event Design for Meaning, Design for Doing.

Hosted at City University I was very happy to sit in their air-conditioned lecture theatre to listen to our speakers.

Design for Meaning: The Theory

Professor Joseph Giacomin (Brunel University London)

First-up was Professor Joseph Giacomin from Brunel University, who spoke about Design for Meaning.

First, you have to understand what meaning means. He has done extensive research on this and although different disciplines might use different words he thinks that meaning breaks into three different areas.

  • Function – how it works
  • Ritual – the action involved
  • Myth – the tradition behind it

There is also the way meaning changes with context and with time.

As designers, he thinks we have become too focused on the function of a thing and so might be missing something from our designs by forgetting both ritual and myth.

He also suggests we should think more about where products sit within context and time. Are we at the start where our product is a toy for a rich few or has it moved from a luxury to a necessity?

Design for Doing: A Case Study

Lucy Stewart (Snook) ; Dan Watson (Safety Net Technologies)

After a short break, we then had Lucy Stewart from Snook and Dan Watson from SnTech talk about Design for Doing.

They have been working on a product called Pisces to help fishermen better determine what types of fish they will catch. This is a massive issue for the fishing industry which is highly impacted by policy and restrictions created by governments. But fisherman are also very risk averse and need proof that a new technology will actually work.

Lucy took us through some of the research they did with the fishermen themselves to get a better understanding of not only if Pisces would work for them, but the rest of the services that would be needed for it to work well, for instance how the fishermen interact with the devices, charge them and get help if one stops working.

Both talks, while very different, were highly interesting and reminded us that there is always more to learn in design, whether it is a new theory or method.


This post originally appeared on Penny Rance’s website.

About Penny Rance

Guest Event blogger for UXPA (UK). UX Design Researcher for Wiggle.
This entry was posted in Guest Post and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

UXPA UK

User Experience Professionals' Association is a not-for-profit dedicated to promoting and supporting UX and its practitioners.

Newsletter sign up