A method where several design groups produce alternative designs in parallel, with the objective of incorporating the best aspects of each design in the final solution.
McGrew, J. (2001), Shortening the human computer interface design cycle: A parallel design process based on the genetic algorithm, Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 45th Annual Meeting, 603-606.
Nielsen, J., & Faber, J. M. Improving system usability through parallel design. Originally published in IEEE Computer Vol. 29, No. 2 (February 1996), pp. 29-35. The paper is a case study that provides some data on the cost and and impact of parallel design on the usability of an interface.
Nielsen, J. & Faber, J. M. (1996). Improving System Usability Through Parallel Design. IEEE Computer Vol. 29, No. 2 , pp. 29-35
Nielsen, J., Fernandes, T., Wagner, A., Wolf, R., and Ehrlich, K. 1994. Diversified parallel design: contrasting design approaches. In Conference Companion on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Boston, Massachusetts, United States, April 24 - 28, 1994). C. Plaisant, Ed. CHI '94. ACM, New York, NY, 179-180.
Ovaska, S. and Raiha, K.J. (1995). Parallel design in the classroom, Proc. CHI 1995, ACM Press , 264-265.
Tohidi, M., Buxton, W., Baecker, R., and Sellen, A. (2006). Getting the right design and the design right. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Montréal, Québec, Canada, April 22 - 27, 2006). R. Grinter, T. Rodden, P. Aoki, E. Cutrell, R. Jeffries, and G. Olson, Eds. CHI '06. ACM, New York, NY, 1243-1252.
Benefits, Advantages and Disadvantages
Although parallel design might at first seem like an expensive approach, since many ideas are generated without implementing them, it is a very cheap way of exploring a range of possible concepts before selecting the probable optimum.
The parallel design method requires design team members to be available concurrently to carry out design work in parallel. A requirements document is needed to make sure that the design groups are given the same information so that design work begins with the same list of user needs.
The following procedure may be adopted for implementing this method:
The design groups work independently of each other, since the goal is to generate as much diversity as possible. Design groups should not discuss their designs with each other until after they have produced their draft design concepts and presented them in a design workshop. The final design may be one of the designs or a combination of designs, taking the best features from each.
Evaluate the design ideas.