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Understanding representations in design

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  • Department of Computer Science
Representing computer applications and their use is an important aspect of design. In various ways, designers need to externalize design proposals and present them to other designers, users, or managers. This article deals with understanding design representations and the work they do in design. The article is based on a series of theoretical concepts coming out of studies of scientific and other work practices and on practical experiences from design of computer applications. The article presents alternatives to the ideas that design representations are mappings of present or future work situations and computer applications. It suggests that representations are primarily containers of ideas and that representation is situated at the same time as representations are crossing boundaries between various design and use activities. As such, representations should be carriers of their own contexts regarding use and design. The article proposes that abstraction, elevating the representation from the situation, is not the only way to do this, and it proposes alternatives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Pages (from-to)107-125
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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