Meaning of artefacts
Interpretations can differ between designers and consumers
Keywords:Function, ritual, myth, meaning, human-centred design
Previous research has suggested three primary categories of meaning which designers should consider during their design processes, i.e. function, ritual and myth, which cover a spectrum from the purely instrumental to the purely symbolic. The research hypothesis of the current study was that the previously identified three primary categories of meaning would be commonly encountered in practice, and that statistically significant differences would occur between designers and consumers. A semi-structured questionnaire was deployed with ten designers and with ten consumers using a set of twenty photographs of designed artefacts. The results suggested that all three categories of meaning could occur individually or could be co-present to some degree. The results further suggested that statistically significant differences occurred between the group of designers and the group of consumers in the indicated category of meaning and in the adjectives used to describe the artefacts. The findings suggest that some meaning divergences may be occurring between designers and consumers, and would appear to highlight the need for carefully executed ethnographic and user testing activities.