diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 07 pm<Case Studies of Information Design Strategies>
Charly Frech, Metadesign, Berlin, Germany

The company as community: a corporate user interface for designing networked communication processes*

Design systems are being replaced by process design.

Design has been regarded as a linear, isolated process. The concept behind it was based on modular principles- similar to the way bricks are used to build a house. The house gradually dissolved and its existence is now more a question of chemistry than architecture.

Design elements were previously characterized by a half-life-time which gave the designer plenty of time to consider them as isolated items. The half-life-time of designs continued to decrease and the production intervals diminished or fused with the perpetually communicating sender.

Companies were at one time rigid organisations. Their products and brands were clearly profiled in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. As companies recognized the need to transform into open - networks or communities, products became elements of complementary cross-selling strategies. Brands emerged in defined 'live environments' of the target audiences.

Markets and their products no longer limit themselves to sales. Instead, they are designed to the potential of a complete 'life cycle of needs.' Products are increasingly created through active relationships with their users.

The form of products becomes more and more blurred. While products were previously assessed on their mechanical or physical value, they are now increasingly evaluated by their information-, service- and entertainment values.
What's next?

The challenge for today's design is to ultimately eliminate the classic separation of form and content.
The designer becomes a co-author and the author becomes a co-designer. It is a matter of designing 'processes of communication'.
Ideas and designs are no longer the sole property of an individual. They are the result of a collective process.

Media and their content are coming closer to each other. In the middle, a new perspective for the task of design as 'integrator' and 'moderator' of interests, visions and goals evolves.

The term 'process design' relates to managing corporate processes within the framework of marketing and corporate communications needs. This encompasses all of the media a company typically uses to present itself internally and externally. And this is where the 'half-life-time' of individual design elements differs significantly. The more a company succeeds in using 'fast and direct' media such as the Internet, to get in direct contact with its clients, the more it is challenged to react flexibly in 'real-time.'
Design is, more than ever before, dependent on time based media. And time has to do with the designing of 'processes of change'.
Corporate identity is more related to the experience of dialog, the quality of interaction and the combination of emotions and personal usefulness than the comfortable 'two-dimensional and maximum three-dimensional' brand understanding of today.
Instead of talking about 'corporate design' we will possibly be talking about 'corporate user interfaces'. Identity is where the user's needs, the product or service and the medium intersect. This requires inter-medial thinking and trans-medial acting to simultaneously implement and develop the potential of networked communication.

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