Supporting human-centered design in psychologically distant problem domains: The design for cybersecurity cards

Vivek Rao*, George Moore, Hyun Jie Jung, Euiyoung Kim, Alice Agogino, Kosa Goucher-Lambert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleScientificpeer-review

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Increasingly digital products and services make cybersecurity a crucial issue for designers. However, human-centered designers struggle to consider it in their work, partially a consequence of the high psychological distance between designers and cybersecurity. In this work, we build on the Design for Cybersecurity (DfC) Cards, an intervention to help designers consider cybersecurity, and examine a project-based design course to understand how and why specific DfC cards were used. Three findings result. First, designers found the intervention useful across all design phases and activities. Second, the cards helped design teams refocus their attention on the problem domain and project outcome. Third, we identify a need for support in framing and converging during user research, opportunity identification, and prototyping. We argue that the psychological distance between designers and the problem space of cybersecurity partially explains these findings, and ultimately exacerbates existing challenges in the design process. These findings suggest that design interventions must consider the psychological distance between designer and problem space, and have application in design practice across many complex problem domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2831-2840
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Design Society
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event23rd International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2021 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 16 Aug 202120 Aug 2021


  • Creativity
  • Cybersecurity
  • Design cognition
  • Human behaviour in design


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