DDD Europe 2023 - Program

Expanding your Design Heuristic Repertoire One Experiment at a Time

Main Conference - Hands-on Lab


Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

Rebecca Wirfs-Brock
Friday 9 from 11:00 until 13:00 in Room 6+7

(This is a hands-on lab with limited capacity)

With experience, we learn to nudge our designs in directions we want them to go, using patterns along with countless (unnamed) personal design heuristics. Our perception of our current design context, as well as personal preferences and design values, lead us to apply particular heuristics and choose a course of action. When learning about any new software design patterns, techniques or heuristics, we view them through the unique lens of their past experiences. And we implicitly add and enrich any new design technique or practice based on our existing design umwelt. Umwelt, from the German, means "environment" or "surroundings” and includes our perceptions of the world as well as our actions to produce a desired effect or change. Our umwelt isn’t static; we reshape our umwelt as we interact with our world, gaining skills and learning to perceive differently. It is our umwelt that both drives and limits our potential actions.

One way to learn how to exercise judgment, develop discernment, and stretch our design umwelt is to perform structured experiments. In this hands-on session, we’ll start off sharing some of our cherished design and testing heuristics and practices. We’ll speculate on some of the “whys” behind why some of our favored heuristics work the way they do. And we’ll practicing picking up subtle cues from our design contexts that may lead us to either apply adapt specific heuristics, discard them as not fitting our current design context, or to seek out new ones.


Familiarity with design patterns and modeling techniques. Curiosity about design heuristics and performing design experiments.

About Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

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I'm best known as the "design geek" who invented Responsibility-Driven Design and the xDriven meme (think TDD, BDD, DDD..). I'm keen on learning and sharing design heuristics, patterns and practices for architecting and reducing risk and improving quality on complex software projects and programs. I'm a slow jogger... if anyone is interested in an early morning slow jog, it'd be fun to meet and go on a run.