Design representation is a crucial part of all design activity. Representations provide a vehicle through which design ideas and decisions are explored, communicated and recorded. Since representation is so fundamental to design, it follows that a deep understanding of the nature and use of representation has the potential to improve current design practice. While there is recognition in the IS literature of the importance of representation, previous IS research has focused almost entirely on the functional aspects of representation, in particular modelling to support various methodologies or particular aspects of design such as database, object-oriented or process modelling. Since the development of an information system is a socio-technical process, this paper argues that we need to understand how representations can facilitate both the specification of the artefact, and the social aspects of design. This paper explores the use of design representation by real-world practitioners. It identifies two hitherto neglected social purposes of representation employed by designers when interacting with clients or users: selective focus, and promotion. The paper concludes by noting that as IS faces increasingly complex design challenges it is timely to examine our understanding of all aspects of design representation including its role in facilitating the social aspects of design.
Keller, Susan and Carroll, Jennie, "The Social Role of Design Representation" (2009). ACIS 2009 Proceedings. 11.