Cockton, G. (2006). Designing Worth is Worth Designing.

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In the Proceedings of NordiCHI2006.

Cockton has partially  re-written his earlier article and is moving from value-centred design (VCD) to “worth-centred design (WCD) because to avoid confusion.

Starting points for VCD:
• a priori usability evaluation and context fit cannot distinguish between bearable design problems and problems that have major impact
• Usability has to be defined for each project at a time, no absolute standards
• Quality in use and fit to context server only experiences during interaction

• Targets can be derived only from the intended value of a product/service
• Acceptability for fit and misfit should be determined from the outcomes that may or may have sufficient value
• Determinants of interaction quality are not within interaction themselves but in the lasting value of enduring outcomes

product and evaluation targets -> product goals
->Evaluation targets were inconsistent with stated value proposition

2004: product value, capturing the value for the supplier and value for the buyer
->doesn’t work with non-commercial domain

Critique on design and creating value: value is seen only in commercial terms
->well-designed products are preferable to even cheaper competitors’ products as consumers see more value to them

VCD and value-sensitive design (VSD) (values as in moral considerations) both move the focus from context of use to the context of impact, meaning that understanding outcomes weigh more than the way how to get to the outcomes.

Problems with value: association with value as commercial value and misinterpretation with value-sensitive design. Value is both a countable and uncountable noun. Things of value are worthwhile of things of worth, thus WCD focuses on developing worthwhile things.

Worth: an umbrella term for people’s needs and wants and product quality. “We must focus on human motivation alone when considering wants, needs, value or worth.”

Motives reveal what is worthwhile (and thus valuable)

Maslow: growth needs (self-actualisation) can follow only if deficiency needs (physical, safety, social, esteem) are met, meaning that needs and wants create a hierarchy.
Alderfer: existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs can be pursued simultaneously.
Sartre: people create values through choice of action
…. Cockton: Thus people are capable of articulating only what they have found worthwhile, not what they could value

Main point of the whole paper: WCD should be able to broaden HCI’s scope over Taylorism and Disneyism by focusing on all possible discourses on human value.

Individual worth
• Psychological well-being stresses identity, belonging and growth
o HCI originating in workplace technologies has limited options
o HCI in home and leisure give more opportunities for meeting identity needs
o Transient pleasure and comfort can be worthwhile, ludic (playful) computing and funology
• WCD shift emphasis from cognition to emotion, from work to leisure
• Motivators (satisfiers) and hygiene factors (dissatisfiers)
o Cognitive and affective HCI focus on hygiene factors
o Difference between motivational HCI and affective is in short-lived and longer term

Collective worth
• Collective worth is more difficult to elicit than individual worth
• Individuals learn collective values through socialization, a mechanism for learning normative structures
• Collective value can be studied in multiple disciplines: sociology, cultural and social anthropology, economics, cultural and literary studies, etc.
o Each discipline has a different approach and set of values
• MILKK (markets, institutions, locales, kin, kind)

Poorly met needs or unmet needs can be identified by using ethnography, interviews and competitor analysis whereas unfelt needs are easily skipped by using e.g. personas that don’t focus on how well currently individuals needs are met or could be met. Prototyping, envisionment and performance suit better and prototyping is vital for averting risks and finding out if new technologies can deliver anything worthwhile. By working scenarios backwards (backcasting), it’s possible to keep the intended worth through the development. WCD focuses on planning much in advance and using worth as both success criteria and product motivation.

Benefits of WCD
common ground…

  • for all development processes with total iteration potential
  • between design management sponsors, users and other stakeholders
  • though cultural forms in worth arenas

This paper is particularly difficult to read.

Posted by Mikael

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3 Responses to Cockton, G. (2006). Designing Worth is Worth Designing.

  1. Sampo Teräs says:

    When I first read the article over a year ago I had big troubles understanding it. Now, that I have read it again I still have troubles. It seems that the paper cannot really be understood well unless the previous work considering the VCD is comprehended. Cockton seems to have a very strange definition for value, which doesn’t seem to fit well with other definitions of value, that I have encountered. Two years after defining VCD he changes it to WCD, and for a native Finnish speaker it is quite hard to catch the idea behind changing the term Value into term Worthwhile. As Katrine wrote, the terminology is not consistent and not well defined.

    As a theory that would describe what is worth, it is not specific and wide enough. As a guide for doing worthwhile design it is way too confusing to be usable, or “worthwhile” in Cockton’s terminology.

  2. Amandeep says:

    This paper was one of the most difficult paper I have ever read. There are so many reasons behind this kind of claim – paper does not have any fixed terminology or structure. It is not at all a free flow paper.
    However, even though the paper is difficult in reading but still I am able to get one clear message that “Value centered design is often talked but Worth centered design approach is much needed in the changing HCI domain”

  3. Katrine says:

    Both Mikael and Anu found the same sentence as the most important in this paper: “WCD should be able to broaden HCI’s scope over Taylorism and Disneyism by focusing on all possible discourses on human value.” Marko pointed out, that having one important idea is enough to have a conference paper published.

    It was generally agreed that Cockton’s paper was difficult to read. This could be due to the way it was written: it does not follow a common academic paper outline, terminology is not consistent and not defined and it was even questioned whether he is making fun of his readers who are not native English speakers. Anu found Cockton’s engineering background visible in the way the text was written and in his technology-oriented way of defining things, and told us that he has later developed complex worth-mapping tools.

    Katrine pointed out that 8/29 references were to his own papers and asked if his work is related to other work in this area. Is Value/Worth centered design of interest to anyone else but Cockton? Anu mentioned that other researchers, such as Sari Kujala do refer to his work.

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