Context aware…

Posted on September 17, 2014

Understanding context, especially cultural and situational context is one of the biggest challenges for design. Sweeping statement perhaps? But consider ‘shoe tossing’ as an example; A celebration to some, school prank to others. Perhaps it’s the border of gang territory, perhaps it means you can purchase drugs nearby? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_tossing)  This variation in interpretation is not simply country specific, they can be different between city’s and neighborhoods, or even profession specific. With a global audience easier to reach, design assumptions based on personal context are the easiest to overlook and can compromise the project success. Understanding the different interpretations of design cues, be it interface symbols, color choice or form are critical to success and acceptance by the intended audience. When designing outside your comfort zone there are no quick fixes; designers getting out of the office, experiencing context first hand, asking questions, having an open mind and becoming immersed are great places to start.