pdf Distorting Design:
Unevenness as a Cognitive Dimension of Design Tools


Computing Department, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

G. Allen, J. Wilkinson & P. Wright (eds.)
Adjunct Proceedings of HCI '95
University of Huddersfield School of Computing and Mathematics, Huddersfield, 1995, pp 90-95.

Open University Computing Department Research Report 95/01

Abstract. All design tools are uneven: they make some designs harder to produce than others. They bias designers towards producing designs that the tool makes easy. This paper gives an informal definition of unevenness, and argues that it is a cognitive dimension of design tools. Unevenness is an emergent property of other cognitive dimensions, primarily closeness of mapping and viscosity. Important sources of unevenness are: imposed structure (forcing the user to fit the system's restrictions); distortion (changing the design to fit the system's restrictions); default rigidity (the difficulty of changing parameters); accessibility (the difficulty of finding out how to use the system); prepared paths (having designs and templates provided); and tediousness.

For more on Thomas Green's work on Cognitive Dimensions of artefacts, see Thomas Green's Research Page. Alan Blackwell of the University of Cambridge maintains an archive of Cognitive Dimensions papers and tutorials.

Author address.

Martin Stacey
Department of Computer Technology
Faculty of Technology
De Montfort University
Leicester LE1 9BH
United Kingdom