Designers work with and through multiple design alternatives. Despite this well-known fact, current computer-aided systems force designers to work with one design at a time, in what has come to be known as the single-state paradigm. Consequently, designers employ various ad hoc and limited workarounds to support their normal and preferred practice. In recent years several research projects have developed concepts and systems to support working with multiple design alternatives. I conducted a user study with an existing alternatives-enabled system, namely the “Design Gallery System” (Mohiuddin et al., 2017), which revealed patterns of use, barriers and usability issues of the system. This helped me to improve the structure of the Gallery System, designing new interactions to support users’ needs and barriers presented by the existing system. Based on the first study and a basic object design comprising alternatives and collections, I designed and led the implementation of a new alternatives enabled system: Design Gallery II. A qualitative study of the new system reveals several patterns of use that show ways designers use and might use an alternatives-enabled system. These patterns of use help us: (a) understand design guidelines and principles for building and evaluating an alternatives-enabled system; (b) find the features an alternatives-enabled system needs for supporting design tasks; (c) extract and compare design patterns and designers’ search behaviour using such systems. A no-comparison creativity support index evaluation (score 89.26/100 (SD=10.43)) provides additional ideas for future system design.
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Thesis advisor: Woodbury, Robert
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