Designing for designers: ecodesign tools to inform and inspire

2006-03-06T18:41:24Z (GMT) by Vicky Lofthouse
In recent years, it has been widely recognised that design has the potential to play a valuable role in the development of environmentally superior products and in response to this a wide range of ecodesign tools have been developed. Despite this, ecodesign literature indicates that designers do not have the right mechanisms to support the integration of ecodesign into early product development [1]. Research has suggested that many tools fail because they do not focus on design, but are aimed at strategic management or retrospective analysis [2]. A recent study has highlighted that many of the tools currently available and much of the information they provide is inappropriate to the needs of designers in terms of the content they provide, the language they use, their presentation style and their style of access [3]. This paper presents the findings from a collaborative research project, building on the results of a doctoral thesis that began to identify the requirements that designers have of ecodesign tools. The follow on project uses these findings to develop a more appropriate tool for supporting practical ecodesign activities. The research illustrates the importance of using an holistic approach in the development of tools, identifying that a combination of guidance, education and information, along with well considered content, an appropriate presentation style and an appropriate means of access are all critical to the success of tools of this nature.