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What is Design To The Edges?

 , August 27, 2016
Design to the edges is a design approach that optimizes things for as many people as possible. It is a rejection of the idea that things be designed for the average person. Instead, design to the edges optimizes for the full range of human characteristics, traits, abilities and interests.

Myth of Average

The myth of average is the observation that a person may be close to average in a single factor but if you look at ten factors or more it is quite rare for an individual to be average across all factors.
As an example, around 30% of people might be close to average at math. However, it is exceedingly rare to find that a person is close to average at ten diverse subjects such as math, science, athletics, language, creative problem solving, art, computer programming, improvisational theatre, singing and emotional intelligence. The great majority of people diverge from the average in at least a few areas. As such, there is no such thing as an average student. This differs from the common perception that most people are average at most things.


Traditional educational approaches are designed for the mythical average student with the idea that talented individuals in each subject area be patient and students who struggle with a particular topic should magically catch up.
A design to the edges approach suggests that talented students in each subject should be challenged and those that struggle with a subject shouldn't be left behind. This requires a more imaginative and flexible educational approach.

Human Factors in Design

Design to the edges is used to create designs that are useful to a large number of people. For each human factor, a design considers the edges. For example, a video game might consider both people with an unusually fast reaction time and those with an unusually slow reaction time. A game that is hardcoded to the average reaction time might be ill suited to the majority of the game's customers.
Overview: Design To The Edges
Human Factors
Definition (1)Designs that are useful to a wide range of people as opposed to being designed for an average person.
Definition (2)Designs that consider the full range of human characteristics, traits, abilities and interests.
Related ConceptsBan The Average
Tyranny Of Averages
Design Principles


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