Thursday, September 15, 2005

The case for case studies (and DUX 2005)

Several people have made the case for case studies over recent years. Among them is Dennis Wixon, who in the July+August 2003 issue of interactions argued that the current research literature largely fails the practitioner:
"If our discipline is serious about public discussion of methods as they are applied in industry, we will move to ... a broad-based case study approach, examining outcomes that are relevant to both practice and business. Our relevance as a discipline and our career success as practitioners depend on such a change."
The current editors of interactions say more in the July+August 2005 issue:
"Case studies are important; they're readable, they're engaging, they reflect on the same issues you do, and sometimes they present an approach that is so gloriously and confoundedly obvious you'll wonder why you didn't think of that. They also emphasize best practices. But don't take our word for it. Nancy Frishberg, one of the DUX 2005 program chairs said recently about case studies:

'The case study format encourages more interplay between the images and words, because of the extended length (compared with some other conferences including CHI). It also helps remind practitioners that learnings from projects are worth recording and sharing whether they count those projects as unvarnished successes or not.'

...The good news is there is an excellent conference where practitioners share best practices: DUX 2005 ( We encourage all practitioners to consider attending DUX 2005 at Fort Mason in San Francisco this November. The program consists of Design Case Studies, Design Practice Studies (less focus on evidence, more on process), Design Research Studies (evidence through research that provide guidance or prediction of results), and Sketches (work in progress)."
More details of the DUX 2005 program have been appearing recently on the DUX 2005 conference website. Among them is a listing of ~60 agency, industry and academic case studies, research studies, practice studies, sketches and posters, from diverse cultural geographies, spanning a broad range of design exploration. Tutorial details are also there, as I referenced in an earlier blog entry. To come are more details about the opening and closing plenary sessions, studio tours, and an assortment of special events. (As I've been posting to various mailing lists today: though not described on the website as yet, the opening plenary session will feature 2005 Tony Award-winning actor and MacArthur Award recipient Bill Irwin, comedian and performer Heather Gold, interactive artist J.Walt Adamczyk, and special recognition of World Usability Day.)

So, if you are a user experience practitioner, give serious thought to spending your 3-5 November 2005 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. (And register soon. Early registration rates expire 1 October, and we do expect a sellout.)