Research methods, design methods and design heuristics were defined from a review of text-books. Textbooks provided a consensus of what were conventional methods and heuristics. A stable base of proven and well-used methods and heuristics was needed against which a comparison could be made with defined methods and heuristics within the assistive technology-industrial design (AT-ID) methodology.

Industrial design in this context is defined as the delivery of the social and cultural functionality (social value) within the constraints of function, cost and manufacture.

The current design management British Standard for inclusive design was also used as a guide (British standards 2005). The transition from medical and engineering model to social and design model can even be seen in the change in terminology in the title of the British standards for AT terminology in 2002, “Technical aids for persons with disabilities – Classification and terminology” to the equivalent title in 2011, “ Assistive products for persons with disability – Classification and terminology.” The semantics indicate assistive product over technical aid; a more holistic description over the original.

A wide range of textbooks were reviewed for this resource.  The books and articles reviewed for the purpose of identifying the nomenclature of conventional research methods, design methods and design heuristics are shown in each section.

Research methods, design methods and design heuristics within the references were defined based on nomenclature current at the time of publication. To ensure clarity for the reader, the following three terms were defined from the textbooks. Where necessary, the definitions are augmented from a number of sources.

Research methods

Research is a systematic study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of a phenomena. (Cohen et al 2007). Research methods are categorised under three main forms: exploratory; constructive; and, empirical research (Allison et al 1996: 6). The two ways in which these forms of research may be applied are qualitative and quantitative research. (Creswell 2009)

Design methods

Design methods are a systematic way of doing something within a sequence of operations actions or events that are called a design process. (Jones 1970) The application of techniques and use of heuristics in a timely sequence provide the operator with a simplified set of variables on which design decisions may be made, within the complexity of a real-world problem. (Cross 1989)

Design heuristics

Design heuristics are mental short-cuts or rules applied to ease the cognitive load when making timely design decisions. (Karwowski et al 2011: 112) Heuristics are rules often based on past experience and learned behaviours, (e.g. rule of thumb). They can also be a collective consensus of opinion on a specific set of variables. (Martin and Hanington 2012: 98) Heuristics may help in categorising, organising or prioritising. Heuristics can also be used to generate options from which design decisions may be made.

The majority of methods and heuristics are documented in three text-books by Martin and Hanington (2012); Lidwell et al (1996); and, Wilson and Corlett (2002). Professional connoisseurship and the author’s past experience were used to make the value judgements on the classification of elements from the publications in preparation of this resource.

Useful links

British standard, 2002. BS EN ISO 9999:2002.  Technical aids for persons with disabilities—Classification and terminology.

British standard, 2005. BS7000-6:2005, Design Management systems. Managing inclusive design. Guide.

British standard, 2011. BS EN ISO 9999:2011. Assistive products for persons with disabilities—Classification and terminology.

Karwowski, W., Soares, M., Stanton, N., (eds), 2011. Human factors and ergonomics in consumer product design: Uses and Applications, Taylor & Francis, Boca Ranton.

Karwowski, W., Soares, M., Stanton, N., (eds), 2011. Human factors and ergonomics in consumer product design: Methods and Techniques, Taylor & Francis, Boca Ranton.

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., Butler, J., 2003. Universal principles of design: 100 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design, Rockport, Gloucester.

Martin, B., Hanington, B., 2012. Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions, Rockport, Beverly.

Wilson, J. R., and E. N. Corlett. 1995. Evaluation of human work: A practical ergonomics methodology. 2nd ed. London: Taylor & Francis.