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About this book

This book describes a structured sketching methodology to help you create alternative design ideas and sketch them on paper. The Five Design-Sheet method acts as a check-list of tasks, to help you think through the problem, create new ideas and to reflect upon the suitability of each idea. To complement the FdS method, we present practical sketching techniques, discuss problem solving, consider professional and ethical issues of designing interfaces, and work through many examples.

Five Design-Sheets: Creative Design and Sketching for Computing and Visualization is useful for designers of computer interfaces, or researchers needing to explore alternative solutions in any field. It is written for anyone who is studying on a computing course and needs to design a computing-interface or create a well-structured design chapter for their dissertation, for example. We do acknowledge that throughout this book we focus on the creation of interactive software tools, and use the case study of building data-visualization tools. We have however, tried to keep the techniques general enough such that it is beneficial for a wide range of people, with different challenges and different situations, and for different applications.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. Introduction: Think, Prep, Sketch

There are many situations when you need to plan and think through a range of different ideas, strategies, or courses of action. Often, your task is to find the right tools, or approach for a job and plan a solution to the problem at hand. In other situations is it useful to work through different permutations in your mind and decide which idea is the best to implement. Often though, it is initially difficult to know which design is best and how to proceed. This certainly applies to programmers, when they design and develop visual computer interactive interfaces, or visualisation tools that display big data. In particular, software engineers need often to consider various alternative designs and layouts, before they even think about beginning to program. In this book we present a method that will enable you to contemplate, decide upon and communicate different approaches and ideas. We call it the Five-Designs Sheet methodology, as it is based around sketching alternative designs in five structured sheets. Through presenting this method, we discuss techniques to help you contemplate your ideas, combine them to devise more complex plans and depict them in sketches. These sketches can them be implemented as interface solutions. This chapter covers the main concepts explored in the book and the different skills that we wish you to learn, including: (1) thinking through ideas, (2) preparing to sketch and (3) sketching different ideas and using the Five Design-Sheet methodology for design-thinking.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos

Chapter 2. Overview of the Five Design-Sheets (FdS)

Planning by sketching is a powerful strategy. It allows you to think through different ideas and explore them on paper. The Five Design-Sheet (FdS) methodology provides a helpful structure for planning and designing interfaces. Ideas are brainstormed and sketched on the first sheet. Sheets 2, 3 and 4 capture three principal designs, and sheet 5 presents the design that will be implemented. You can use the methodology to plan data-visualisation tools, business applications, games and other interactive interfaces. This chapter presents an overview of the method. We introduce each sheet in turn and explain how it can be applied to a variety of interfaces.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos

Chapter 3. Thoughts, Ideas, Problems and Solutions

When we are trying to solve a problem we often produce lots of ideas, for ways to solve it. Usually, we think through those alternative different ideas and the problem at hand, in order to get the best solution. Other times we may have an idea and we are trying to see if it could solve other problems. But what is a problem? What types of problems are there? How can we work through a problem and carefully contemplate each solution? Can we start with a possible solution and workout what other problems it may solve? Are problems constant? These are questions that have been asked, and attempted to be answered, by early philosophers to modern computer scientists. This chapter explores these concepts from a both a philosophical and practical viewpoint.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos

Chapter 4. Social, Ethical and Other Considerations to Interface Design

Before, while and after putting pen to paper we need to think through the problem. There are a few very important questions as preparation that we need to consider: Can you? Should you? What if you? These are key questions that any software engineer and visualisation designer should be asking. For instance, we may ask ourselves whether there any ethical implications to developing this software. What could be the ramifications of my design? What methodologies are there to help me work through these questions? We discuss these questions and provide useful guidelines to help developers produce suitable software.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos



Chapter 5. Sketching Design Skills

Sketching is a powerful technique. Just the act of putting pen to paper, and working through many different design concepts helps you to work through the ideas in your mind. The sketches act as mini plans. They help you iron out some glitches before you spend time (and even waste time) to build the solution. It is an important part of the Five Design-Sheets (FdS) method. While sketching is a useful tool many users do, however, say that they cannot sketch. Sketching is a skill and as such can be improved through exercises. The sketched sheets in the FdS are used to help you plan, they are not meant to be works of art! This chapter presents sketching as a tool for design planning, explains the sketching method and what resources you will need and explores techniques to improve your skills of sketching for design.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos

Chapter 6. Graphical Marks and Semiology for Sketching

As we sketch and draw our different solutions it is good to think how information can be communicated effectively. Each of the marks and graphics that we place on the page need to convey the ideas that we have in our mind. How do we display information effectively? How do we know that things are related? This chapter investigates how we as humans understand information. We look to the Gestalt psychologists and explain principles of design, and look to Jacques Bertin and his graphics semiology.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos

Chapter 7. Creative Thinking, Creativity and Ideation

Especially for sheet 1, you need to articulate many alternative ideas. But, where do design ideas come from? How can you create something novel? What helps you be creative? All these are questions that psychologists, philosophers, artists and inventors have pondered in the past. While there may be no single answer to all these questions there are things that can help generate creative ideas. This chapter explores creativity and ideation and provides a list of techniques to help you get started with thinking up new designs.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos



Chapter 8. Sheet 1 of the Five Sheets

The ideology behind the first sheet is to explore many ideas, discover alternative solutions and define three potential ideas that will be further refined in the next three sheets. Through following the five stages of sheet 1, metaphorically you go on a journey. You will start with simple and undeveloped ideas and finish with three potential solutions that you can develop further in the subsequent sheets. You start with immature concepts, even partially formed ideas, that will mature through the act of sketching and thinking through the solutions. In fact, the very act of sketching helps you work through the ideas in a concrete way. At this stage of design it is more about generating ideas and exploring the design possibilities rather than focusing on one final solution. This chapter will help you work through the ideas and eventually you will decide upon three potential solutions that you will further develop on the next sheets.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos

Chapter 9. Sheets 2, 3 and 4 (The Middle Sheets)

The second, third and fourth sheets (the middle sheets) of the Five Design-Sheet method allow three designs to be explored in detail. Each sheet contains five parts: textual and reference information, sketches of what the tool or system would look like (the Big Picture), details of the components and operations of the design, and the Parti (the unique-selling point and principle ideas that underpin the design to make it special), finally advantages and disadvantages of the design.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos

Chapter 10. Sheet 5 (Design Realisation)

This chapter focuses on developing the final design. The next steps are to decide on which of the three design ideas (from sheets 2, 3 and 4) to take forward, then develop the ideas further and add details to create a design realisation sheet. This sheet needs to include enough details to allow someone to understand the needs of the products and include enough information to judge that a tool (when built) fulfils the goals of the design. We lead the reader through ways to make precise thoughts over each of the designs and provide examples of the whole process.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos

Chapter 11. Five Design-Sheet Examples and Applications

The Five Design-Sheet method can be used to plan a huge variety of interactive tools, interfaces and algorithms. It would be impossible to run through examples of every type. In this chapter, we focus on two example scenarios to demonstrate the full process. The first example explores different ways to capture and display heritage monuments. The second example explores how data visualisation and animation can be used to explain the stages of a computer algorithm.
Jonathan C. Roberts, Christopher J. Headleand, Panagiotis D. Ritsos
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