Secret Histories and Hidden Practices
Digital design practice is distinctive in its relationship to material and focus on fabricating that into interactive products and services. It’s a discipline that has evolved from significantly different disciplines: Product Design and Human-computer Interaction (HCI). The foundational role that HCI played in the growth of digital design is largely hidden, as is the secret world of design practice. These two shrouded phenomena have evolved from early user interface research, through user experience, to today’s post-agile world and tomorrow’s open design. We report ten years of first-hand accounts to create a grounded, contextualised and evidence-based account of design in the real-world from the 1980s to today. This condensed history of digital design in the UK forms the basis of the concluding sections. The first traces the evolution of design practice over the last ten years. The concluding section presents a first-hand account of practice. This case study shows how design is now deeply permeated by business and development ideas and practices. The paper concludes with some ideas of how digital design practice might progress beyond this presently constrained condition.