I’ve always thought that evidence-based design and evidence-informed design are basically the same thing.
But a conversation with a client recently made me think about it.
My client believes that if a product is evidence-based, it implies that research using that product has been done that produced outcomes. An evidence-informed product, on the other hand, means that it was designed or produced using research relevant to the desired outcomes.
Maybe it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but I’m not so sure.
The Department of Health and Human Services defines evidence-based practice as “approaches to prevention or treatment that are supported by documented scientific evidence or study.” Evidence-informed practice is “using the best available knowledge and research to guide program design and implementation.”
These seem too similar to me to be different. Should we apply the same rationale for products and facilities?
I asked the evidence-based design expert what he thought.
“I think they are close enough to be interchangeable, as might be ‘research-informed,'” responded D. Kirk Hamilton, FAIA, FACHA, EDAC, Professor of Architecture, Texas A&M University and Co-Editor of the HERD Journal, to my email inquiry. “There are subtle differences which allow for reference to more than research (additional sources of evidence).”
Also, evidence-based design is defined by The Center for Health Design as “the process of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes.”
If we apply that definition to products, then I think that products designed using this same process can claim to be evidence-based.
What do you think?
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Photo credit: Michael Johnson [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons