Affiliated Organization

Case Western Reserve University, USA


This paper provides principles for designing tailorable technologies. Tailorable technologies are technologies that are modified by end users in the context of their use and are around us as desktop operating systems, web portals, and mobile telephones. While tailorable technologies provide end users with limitless ways to modify the technology, as designers and researchers we have little understanding of how tailorable technologies are initially designed to support that end-user modification. In this paper, we argue that tailorable technologies are a unique technology type in the same light as group support systems and emergent knowledge support systems. This unique technology type is becoming common and we are forced to reevaluate existing design theory, methods of analysis, and streams of literature. In this paper we present design principles of Gordon Pask, Christopher Alexander, Greg Gargarian, and Kim Madsen to strengthen inquiry into tailorable technologies. We then apply the principles to designing tailorable technologies in order for their design to become more coherent and tractable. We conclude that designers need to build reflective and active design environments and gradients of interactive capabilities in order for technology to be readily modified in the context of its use.