Introducing an Empirical Model of Design


The dominant view of design in information systems and software engineering, the Rational Model, views design and engineering as a methodical, plan-centered, approximately rational process of optimizing a design candidate for known constraints and objectives. It persists despite extensive empirical evidence that it does not reflect design practice and no evidence that attempts to adopt rationalistic processes improve outcomes. One reason for its resilience against empirical critique may be the lack of a comprehensive alternative. This paper addresses this gap by enumerating the Rational Model’s components and proposing a comprehensive, better-supported alternative, an “Empirical Model of Design”. The Empirical Model is intended to replace the Rational Model as a foundation for design methods and practices, design education and design science research.

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