As usual, I'm going to start with a statement, but I promise there's a
question at the end of all this mess. :)
The difficulty goes beyond recognizing what the users' actual goals are. We
have to design with the business/applications goals in mind as well. The
point where the two sets of goals intersect is the where the value of a
There are excellent methods for attempting to understand users, but I think
a strictly analytical approach is limited. It's true that Contextual
Studies, Ethnographic Studies, Usability Studies, Market Research, and the
like are great for gathering information, but the problem seems to be in the
interpretation. There is some art to creating great user
experience/interaction that requires the artist's touch. Comprehending user
goals is different than empathizing with users and their struggles. I've
found that the most difficult debates happen after a user problem/goal is
identified and the question, "what do we do now?" is raised.
Let me try to restate the question. How do we transition from gathering data
to interpretation to execution to operation? I'm familiar with the
deliverables at each "phase", but not necessarily the philosophy.
I'm extremely interested in hearing everyone's opinions on this matter.
Assume the ultimate goal is to create a real solution from scratch.