Design for Manufacturing Decision Support


What should 21st century interfaces used in oil production look like? When plant managers use software to make decisions, what factors should they consider? Should we design interfaces that include the quantitative and the qualitative experiences of the decision-makers?

Considering decision support through the lenses of critical and feminist theories suggests novel approaches to the design of human-computer interfaces. Treating interfaces as cultural objects, or in Derrida’s terms a “text” that can be read and reread analyzed provides us with valuable insights into how these interfaces may, subsequently, be read and understood by their users.

How to build a better HCI

Challenge what we currently consider critical constraints within the decision-making process: include not just parts and materials, but also people (individuals, groups, and communities), environments (machines, working spaces, surrounding spaces, and electronic spaces), and processes (steps, time, decisions, upsets, consequences, factors, communications, relationships, and dependencies).

This project culminated in a set of principles for feminist human-computer interface (HCI) design that have, subsequently, been adopted and expanded by the qCollaborative—a feminist design research lab housed at the University of Illinois, University of Waterloo, and Mount Royal University.

  1. Challenge existing practices.
  2. Aim towards an actionable ideal future.
  3. Look for what has been made invisible or under-represented.
  4. Consider the micro, meso, and macro levels of information.
  5. Privilege transparency and accountability.
  6. Expect and welcome being subjected to rigorous critique. 

Future work

A key aspect of our future work is to explore the graphical representation of items. 
If all constraint types are given the same graphical representation within a decision support system would the design suggest that people are considered the same as waste or its disposal? There may be a benefit to both interpretations: sameness as equality, thus positive, or sameness as a devaluing of the human condition, thus negative. We must also consider that difference may, and usually does, indicate a hierarchy. If our choice of graphical representation places emphasis on one category over another, that emphasis will also hold meaning. Empowering the user to assign what type of graphical representation is given to which category empowers the decision-maker, but it potentially disempowers those captured in the categories, especially if they form a typically marginalized community.

GEAR DESIGN: The user can directly manipulate each nested gear in the process of addressing a particular decision. For every decision a new set of gears appears, displaying the relevant variables and their relationships to one another. Both the nesting and the gear metaphor represent the relationship that exists between the different variables within the decision-making process. For example, a decision of whether or not to increase the production does not occur in isolation but is connected to numerous other factors. 

Where it’s been published/presented

Radzikowska, M. and S. Ruecker. Design + DH: A Handbook for Mutual Understanding. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books (forthcoming 2021).

Radzikowska, M. and S. Ruecker. (2019). “(Un)intended Value Implications of Graphical Representations of Data.” Re: Research (1 ed. Vol. Volume 7: Design and Digital Interaction). UK: Intellect Books. (In Print / Published).

Radzikowska, M., Roberts-Smith, J., Zhou, X. and S. Ruecker. (July 2019). “A Speculative Feminist Approach to Project Management.” SDRJ: Strategic Design Research Journal. 12(1).

Radzikowska, M., Ruecker, S. and S. Sinclair. “From A to B via Z: Strategic Interface Design in the Digital Humanities.” Proceedings of the bi-annual conference of the International Association of Societies of Design Research (IASDR). Nov 2-5, 2015. Brisbane.

Durão, R., Eriksson, Y., Madson, M., Radzikowska, M., van Patter, G. and C. Westphal “Visualization, Discovery, Change, and the Human Factor.” Panel at the 6th Annual Symposium on Communicating Complex Information (SCCI), February 27-28, 2017, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.

Radzikowska, M. and S. Ruecker. “Prospect on Constraints: Extending rich-prospect browsing theory into decision support design.” Presentation at the Society for Digital Humanities/ Société pour l’étude des médias interactifs annual conference at the 2012 Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Waterloo May 26-June 2, 2012.

Radzikowska, M., Ruecker, S., Ta, C., Bischof, W. and F. Forbes. “Human Decisions for a Machine World: Designing Experimental Interface Alternatives that Support Decision Making.” Presentation at the International Conference on Interaction Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic, Nov 9—11, 2011.

Radzikowska, M., Ruecker, S., Bischof, W., Annette, M. and F. Forbes. “Geared Decisions: Experimenting with Decision Support Visualizations.” Presentation at the Design and Emotion Conference. Illinois Institute of Technology. Chicago. Oct 5-7, 2010.