Steven Dow- Understanding Iterative Design with Individuals, Groups, and Crowds

Technologies and services improve through iterative design. How do iterative practices such as critique and reflection affect design results for individuals, groups, and crowds? Our experiments have found that, even under tight time constraints when the common intuition is to stop iterating and start refining, iterative prototyping helps designers learn. Results also show that creating and receiving feedback on multiple designs in parallel—as opposed to serial iteration—leads to more divergent ideation, more explicit comparison, less investment in a single concept, and better overall performance. Moreover, small groups who produce and share multiple designs report a greater increase in rapport, exchange more verbal information, share more features, and reach a better consensus. At scale, our work also demonstrates that crowd workers perform better and learn from iterative assessments. I conclude by discussing three new projects around the theme of designing with crowds.