The process ive just reviewed will be useful only if

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The process I've just reviewed will be useful only if you add to it and customize it. In considering how to cus- tomize your process, you may find the following three questions helpful. First, what kind of problem is it? well-defined? ill-defined? wicked-hard? Next, what factors does the client want to optimize? Paul Pruneau was the first person to introduce me to the canard about time, money and quality. He is rabid in his belief that you can optimize only two of these factors. And that as a result, the third must suffer. Finally, what is the general class of product? Will it be a message, a tool or an environment? Will it be primarily a communi- cation, an interface or a place? These classes yield an entire taxonomy of possibilities, but that's another lecture. Clearly no single process can stretch to fit more than a fraction of the range of problems that designers face. Like- wise, no single method for defining problems is at once specific enough to be a useful tool and general enough to
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cover more than a few types of problems. However, the precise steps you use are really less important than writing down the steps you want to use and agreeing on them with your team. The more specific you can be about each step in your process, the more likely you are to avoid forgetting a step, the more likely you are to avoid surprises and the more likely you are to avoid the frustra- tion that comes when team members discover they have different expectations. The difficulty of finding useful, general models should not deter us from trying to find them. The benefits, in cost savings, in product quality, and in job satisfaction, of articulating our assumptions far outweigh the difficulty of the undertaking. What's more, the new and increasingly complex projects that designers now face, demand famil- iarity with a range of problem-solving models and clearly articulated processes. Lighting a candle in the black box of the design pro- cess does not destroy the magic. It simply pushes the darkness a little farther away. Of course, it might also ignite an explosion.
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