Top 5 Mistakes Even Good Designers Make

Even good designers can make the following 5 mistakes.

Not putting people in the driver's seat:

People feel better when they are in control of their environment. If people can reconfigure furniture, adjust the temperature, change the lighting, choose where to sit, and have options to complete tasks, they experience a place more positively.

  • Control enhances satisfaction with an environment (RDC, Blog, 2015, "More on the Benefits of Control")
  • Office personalization is linked to job satisfaction and employee well-being. (RDC, February, 2015, "Healthy Workplaces;"RDC, Issue 4, 2011, “Classic Study:  Value of Office Personalization”) 
  • Putting doorbells outside patient rooms in a long-term care facility makes residents and staff more comfortable. (RDC, Issue 2, 2011, “Nursing Homes:  Doors and Doorbells”)
  • Whether we’re sitting in a stretched out posture (as in an Eames recliner) or not influences how powerful we feel. (RDC, Issue 4, 2010, “Power Postures”)
  • Employee environmental control is linked to enhanced performance at the individual, group, and organizational levels.  (RDC, Issue 2, 2010, “Workplace Research: Satisfaction, Control and Territoriality”)
  • In a workplace, perceptions of personal control are directly related to perceptions of distraction, with people who feel that they have more control over their physical environment being somewhat less distracted and those people who feel less distracted believe that they performed better at their jobs. (RDC, Issue 1, 2010, “Office-Related Insights”)
  • Patients feel they have more and better access to the information, including their own records, test results, images, and online patient education material, when they are seated so that they can see the same computer screen as their physician.  (RDC, Issue 4, 2009, “Healthcare Design:  Patient Communication and Ambulatory Care”)
  • People prefer restaurant seats with different degrees of privacy depending on their mood. (RDC, Issue 1, 2009, “Preferred Seats in Restaurants")
  • Personal control over the physical workspace leads to higher perceived group cohesiveness and job satisfaction. (RDC,  Issue 2, 2006, “Control Matters”) 
  • When creating environments for dementia patients and their families, a variety of seating options gives families appropriate places to interact based on their visiting style and loved one’s condition. (RDC, Issue 1, 2004, “Dementia Design: Continuing to Make a Difference
  • When completing a simple task, music can increase performance, but decrease performance when the task is complex. With control, individuals can create the musical environment that works best for them. (RDC, Issue 4, 2002, “Background Music: Bane or Benefit

Not designing for all users:

As good designers, we are all concerned about the experiences people have in the places we create. Unfortunately, we can forget how varied the people who will eventually inhabit and use our spaces actually are.

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Not thinking counter-intuitively:

Every designer brings preconceived notions to his or her design projects. But designers and users can experience places differenly and in ways that may be inconsistent with established design practices.

Not mining other design disciplines:

Design of all types deals with the core of human experience. The fundamentals of human place experience are consistent across all sorts of spaces, and there are synergies between research done in each design field. Architects can learn from landscape architects, landscape architects can learn from architects, industrial designers can learn from interior designers, interior designers can learn from architects, and so on.

  • Workplace design influences worker performance in many, often unexpected, ways (RDC, December, 2014, "Workplace Design=> User Performance")
  • Retail design continues to have an important influence on vendors’ financial performance.  Many of those influences are related to shoppers’ experiences and resulting moods. (RDC, Issue 2, 2011, “Retail Atmosphere”)
  • Hospitals can be seen through different lenses, such as a business case lens, a cultural lens and an ethical lens, and all have implications for design. (RDC, Issue 1, 2011, “Healthcare Design:  What, Where, Why”)
  • People are likely to be more creative in workplaces designed with certain physical features.  (RDC, Issue 1, 2011, “Designing for Innovation”)
  • Perceived temperature can be influenced in urban squares through spatial forms and materials (RDC, Issue 3, 2010, “Perceptions of Sensory Stimuli”)
  • Spiritual spaces are particularly challenging to design, but insights from research can be helpful. (RDC, Issue 2, 2010, “Designing Spiritual Spaces”)
  • Both indoors and outdoors, more restorative environments are linked to higher levels of exercise.  (RDC, Issue 4, 2009, “Increasing Exercise Outdoors”)
  • Design and management of urban green areas can benefit from input from health practitioners, designers, and natural resource managers. (RDC, Issue 3, 2009, “Creating Life-Enhancing Urban Open Spaces”)
  • Chairs, and the ways we use them, are changing – and staying the same.  (RDC, Issue 2, 2009, “Rethinking Seating”)
  • Literature reviews provide valuable tips for people designing retail spaces (RDC, Issue 3, 2008, “Designing Effective Retail Spaces”)
  • As more meetings become virtual, it is important to design meeting spaces that support both co-located and virtual meetings.  (RDC, Issue 2, 2008, “Designing Meeting Spaces that Support Both Local and Virtual Collaboration”)
  • Place experiences happen everywhere. Shopping malls are designed as entertainment destinations – and so can parks, zoos, museums, and urban downtowns. (RDC, Issue 2, 2004, "Shopping as Entertainment: The Mall as a Happening Place”) 
  • Environmental psychologists and ergonomic experts have spent a lot of energy developing optimum operating room designs and other disciplines can learn from their experiences. (RDC, Issue 3, 2003, “Lessons from Operating Rooms”)

Ignoring the total place experience:

We do not experience places one sense at a time, but holistically – all of our sensory mechanisms are continuously employed. Each sense can be used to augment or reduce the impression being created by the other senses.

Bonus - Underestimating the value of nature:

People need to take mental breaks continuously during the course of the day. Positive distractions and access to nature can provide just the sort of refreshing nudge people need for optimum place experience and performance.

AND. . . designers can’t ignore the value of learning from others’ experience by reading post-occupancy evaluations (POEs).

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MISTAKES

EVEN iGOODi DESIGNERS
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. . . . and how to avoid them!