Visual phenomenological methodology: the repositioning of visual communication design as a fresh influence on interaction design
Wood, David Alexander
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This practiced-based thesis examines how a new Visual Communication methodology helps interaction designers to improve their future designs. This is achieved by engaging in creating visual interpretations from a lived experience that they need to design for, to reveal the phenomenological essence of what users have actually experienced, rather than what they say they have. This new Visual Phenomenological Methodology (VPM) places interaction designers into a specific communicational situation, in order to understand the phenomena of users’ lived experience ‘through their eyes.’ Thus immersed, interaction designers montage visual interpretations of what users saw/felt/did in the lived experience. The VPM facilitates interaction designers into designer-interpreters, who can interpret sensory data into a behavioural story of what its like to be the user in a lived experience. This thesis has developed the VPM across three peer reviewed, practice-based projects, using a synthesis of the pragmatic semiotics of Peirce, Hermeneutic Phenomenology, and visual communication techniques. Following the Frascaran view that the design discipline of Visual Communication (graphic design and illustration) is a positive facilitator of behavioural change, the VPM employs this hermeneutic-semiosis synthesis to facilitate interaction designers to develop a deeper and emergent understanding of the hidden motivations behind user behaviour. Through a contextual review into Visual Communication, Interaction Design, Phenomenology and Semiosis, this thesis develops the VPM from a theoretical concept, to a set of designer-friendly method cards that interaction designers can employ during their ideation phase. Throughout its development the VPM and its method cards were workshopped and peer reviewed by interaction designers. This thesis, over the following seven chapters, demonstrates how the VPM successfully provided Visual Communication design with a fresh way to re-influence Interaction Design, as a new contribution to knowledge.