Abstract

The use of system diagrams has encouraged information designers to tacitly consider the holistic context. However, because the traditional understanding about the nature of systems has been highly focused on the arrangement of components within a static model, users’ experience is considered little. The goal of this research is to provide a theoretical framework to broaden designers’ conception of the system diagram and enable them to design system diagrams that would prove most effective for different situations, needs, and design problems. Therefore, the key of system diagrams is to understand the relationship of how the system is organized, according to the intent of the designer, the purpose of the user action, and the function of the group. In order to further investigate this notion of a system diagram, we present four kinds of system diagrams where relationships emerge, depending on the following organizing principles: 1) law that holds together individual components, 2) rule that guides decision making, 3) function that supports users’ action possibility, 4) condition that facilitates participation in cultural ideals. In addition, we examine numerous system diagrams that have been created in the Domestic Mail Manual Transformation Project by the Carnegie Mellon School of Design and the United States Postal Service. This is a design case study that not only illustrates the role of system diagrams throughout the design process but also identifies four cases of system diagrams according to different goals: structure diagram, pathway diagram, affordance diagram, and vision diagram.

Keywords:

System Diagram, Information Visualization, Interaction Design, Design Principle, Case Study

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Jul 7th, 12:00 AM

Rethinking System Diagrams: from Arranging Components to Organizing Action, Thought, and Possibility

The use of system diagrams has encouraged information designers to tacitly consider the holistic context. However, because the traditional understanding about the nature of systems has been highly focused on the arrangement of components within a static model, users’ experience is considered little. The goal of this research is to provide a theoretical framework to broaden designers’ conception of the system diagram and enable them to design system diagrams that would prove most effective for different situations, needs, and design problems. Therefore, the key of system diagrams is to understand the relationship of how the system is organized, according to the intent of the designer, the purpose of the user action, and the function of the group. In order to further investigate this notion of a system diagram, we present four kinds of system diagrams where relationships emerge, depending on the following organizing principles: 1) law that holds together individual components, 2) rule that guides decision making, 3) function that supports users’ action possibility, 4) condition that facilitates participation in cultural ideals. In addition, we examine numerous system diagrams that have been created in the Domestic Mail Manual Transformation Project by the Carnegie Mellon School of Design and the United States Postal Service. This is a design case study that not only illustrates the role of system diagrams throughout the design process but also identifies four cases of system diagrams according to different goals: structure diagram, pathway diagram, affordance diagram, and vision diagram.

 

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