Survey of Wikis as a Design Support Tool

by | May 16, 2009

Authors: Carolynn J. Walthall, Christian Sauter, Tobaias Deigendesch, Srikanth Devanathan, Albert Albers and Karthik Ramani
Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED'09), Vol. 6, Design Methods and Tools, Pages 211-222


The use of design notebooks has long been common practice for engineers and designers. Wikis, freely editable collections of web sites, are becoming increasingly popular as flexible documentation and communication tools for collaborative design tasks. The main goals of this work are to better understand & improve wiki support for early design collaboration, and to give students hands-on experience in using wikis as a design tool. For this study, a wiki was provided for 500 engineering students (5 students per team) who worked to solve a challenging design problem. Surveys and interactive feedback sessions were used to analyze the wiki use upon completion of the design project. The results confirm that wikis are a useful and easy to use tool, but certain improvements would increase the utility of wikis for design projects. More features such as easier integration of graphics, metadata, and management options would improve the usefulness of wikis in design thereby improving shared understanding, allowing faster design iterations and better collaboration.

Link to paper: