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CN26: Designing for the Unanticipated

Quick Facts

Time: Thursday, 15 April 2010, 14:30 to 16:00
Units: 1
Organizers: Austin Henderson


A significant portion of the CHI 2010 audience will be employed in designing products, as designers or as managers. The occurrence of circumstances that have not been anticipated by designers is inevitable, and yet we do not focus effort on supporting the users in dealing with such circumstances. This is a significant hole in the designs that we create. Once identified, it will be very valuable to add this requirement to the demands we place on our designs.

This course is intended for those engaged in designing applications in circumstances of all kinds. This course introduces the issue, the problem, and some solutions. Through presentation, discussion, and group exercises, it provides designers with the chance to grow into addressing these concerns.


Those working in product design, as designers and managers.


This course is constructed based on a talk given at ECCE2008 in September, 2008 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.


Participants will learn:
  • the definition and examples of unanticipated circumstances
  • the causes of unanticipated circumstances
  • some often-proposed non-solutions
  • three possible solutions, and explore using them
  • possible reasons why the problem is not commonly recognized
  • possible reasons why the solutions are not in common use


Austin Henderson, is Director of Knowledge Management in the Advanced Concepts & Technology group of Pitney Bowes in Shelton CT, USA. He has a Ph.D in Computer Science for MIT. He has done research and user interface architecture with Xerox, Apple Computer, and Pitney Bowes, industrial design with Fitch, and research consulting with his own firm, Rivendel Consulting. Austin has been active in ACM/SIGCHI since 1983, including as conference chair (1985), and SIGCHI chair (1989-1993). His research interests are in the areas of the design of systems that can be collaboratively evolved by users, and in the management of the integration of research and development in corporations.