UCD Broken? I say "NO"

5 Jul 2008 - 11:32am
7 years ago
1 reply
779 reads

Maybe I should read the complete history of the thread first, but I
don't think the idea is dead, broken, or flawed. To me, UCD just
means letting user input (i.e., info received in form of a stated
requirement or request, as well as info gleaned from observations and
interviews) *INFORM* the process... not dictate specifics.

A good product manager (web producer, or whatever title he/she is
under) will have the skills and vision to guide execution in a way
that renders the best possible product. It is, IMHO, the
responsibility of PM (WP, whatever) to proactively manage
expectations by ensuring users, stakeholders, and key executives
believe in his/her vision.

What may be dead, broken or flawed is a given approach to UCD (i.e.,
the process followed).

Just my 2 cents.

On Jul 4, 2008, at 7:50 AM, Thomas Petersen wrote:

Sorry for the seperate thread, the reply functionality was down for
maintainance and I was urged to simple write an email. I even put in
the actual name of the thread with the hope that they would put it in


The discussion is principal and have some rather large implications
on how we work with our clients or with management.

How often haven't we been fighting with clients who read a book, are
biased because they went to some lecture where UCD was preached or
read an article about the beauty of UCD.

I have at least and is now very upfront with my clients about the
principles we design by so we can manage expectations.

User input is valuable when acumulated, but this idea that seem have
spread that the specific input given by specific users on a given
project is sick in it's core and should be stopped before it brings
the entire field in jeopardy of being a joke.

Just look at how long it took to actually pursuade clients to look at
Jakob Nielsens writings as part of the equation not THE equation.

Maybe I am alone on feeling like this, but never the less it affects
me so I need to react.

On a more constructive note let me recommend two great books.

One is Clayton Christensen "The Innovator's Dilemma"


"What Customers Want - Using Outcome-driven Innovation to Create
Breakthrough Products and Services" by Anthony Ulwick.

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7 Jul 2008 - 6:06pm
Thomas Petersen

Well I agree to a certain extent if it wasn't exactly that this is
the problem of UCD. It does not really go outside it's own premises
to integrate as a part of a process, but "claim" to be the
verification point of the process.

I was taught a very simple thing when I studied design. Design is a
decision. In other words you need to make good decisions in order to
create good design. What constitutes a good decisions is a different
story all together and UCD does not really look at that. Instead it
caters although maybe unintentionally to a wisdom of the crowds
aesthetic WITHOUT including the knowledge already accumulated by many
years of knowledge from the designers.

The crowds is not wrong because they are the users of your product,
design, platform, interface whatever you wanna call it so you end up
with UCD being percieved as the most objective way to validate your

UCD would make sense to a certain extent if it was applied correctly
I agree, but it never is and never will be because of the nature of
how projects that utilizes on it are done today.

Also many of the people who uses UCD have an academic background and
have never actually done any nity gritty design themselves which add
further to the problem of the whole area. Academic people will most
often have a much more strategically important position than the
designers and will therefore be the people translating and verifying
the actual design through these processes up against the clients.

UCD basically most often makes no sense other than from an economic
and political point of view (the agency doing it can make money since
they are selling it as yet another component and the client will have
secured themselves from any punishment from upper management by being
able to claim that it was based around UCD)

UCD should IMHO if anything be something you use AFTER the launch to
alter your product based on the input.

This is where the input is valuable and the feedback can be used to
make decisions.

But at the current state it ads no value but basically simply just
is a proof that many companies don't really dare making decisions
and dare I say fail.

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