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Cognitive Dimensions of Design Rationale

Simon Shum
A 'design rationale' (DR) is a representation of the reasoning behind the design of a system. One of the primary goals in developing a usable DR environment is minimising the cognitive overhead of representing design deliberation in a structured form. This paper examines some of the cognitive attributes of various DR notations, focusing on how generic cognitive dimensions of notations can be operationalised to clarify the relationship between DR notations and the DR authoring process. It is shown how cognitive dimensions analysis makes explicit some of the requirements for DR authoring environments, highlighting the importance of supporting intermediate DR representations; these 'rough DRs' evolve as design reasoning unfolds, to reflect new perspectives on the design space.
People and Computers VI, D. Diaper & N.V. Hammond (eds), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991.