How trendy is UCD? Are we critical enough about it?

10 Sep 2009 - 8:17am
4 years ago
49 replies
1042 reads
Magdalena Mateescu
2009

Hi dear all :)
In the last year I spent a lot of time reading and writing
about interface design, User Centered Design (UCD) and alike. I am not a convince
blogger, but I want to share my thoughts with you about some assumptions that
are more or less explicit in UCD and their consequences. More than that, I hope
for a discussion.
As I don’t like long emails, therefore I opted for a blog:
User
Centered Design in Interface Design: Assumptions and Consequences of
Considering that Users Count
http://interfacedesign-littleabouteverything.blogspot.com/?spref=tw
Best wishes,

magda

Comments

10 Sep 2009 - 10:02am
Dave Malouf
2005

Magda,
I don't know if you've seen the discussions here, but there have
been a slew of discussions that included challenges of UCD very
recently in fact.

It all prompted me to ask on my blog show me a major success
(Apple-like success) that was based on UCD. No answers yet. ;-)

http://davemalouf.com/?p=1694

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486

10 Sep 2009 - 4:34pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> It all prompted me to ask on my blog show me a major success
> (Apple-like success) that was based on UCD. No answers yet. ;-)

I'm not going to get into another debate on this, but I do have a quick
thought:

Zappos is revered for its customer service, but as far as I know, they don't
apply UCD practices, per se. Rather, they hire based on a strong
company-wide philosophy. They figure that people who buy into that
philosophy are the kinds of people that will make good customer-focused
decisions in the first place — as in, it's not a process, or toolset, or
anything else that results in a good customer experience, but a
*mindset*that leads to positive behavior and decision-making.

Those who are genuinely focused on customers do great things for them,
whereas those who are simply trained or told to focus on customers only do
as well as the tools or processes they apply. The degree of innate prior
commitment to the ideology that relates to a stated objective matters quite
a bit. In other words, if it's in your blood, the tools and processes are
irrelevant.

Zappos hires people who already have the ideals it holds dear within their
DNA. That's what makes the company great. Everything else is ancillary at
best.

If I ever again need to hire a team, I'll hire based on a philosophy, and
I'll let the people committed to that philosophy decided how to achieve the
team's goals.

-r-

12 Sep 2009 - 12:23am
David B. Rondeau
2003

I think there are a couple of issues here that need to be separated.

First, I don't think we can really evaluate "user centered design"
as a thing unto itself. There are so many different processes,
methodologies, principles, beliefs, and good intentions that fall
under the rather large umbrella of UCD. To really evaluate, we need
to be evaluating a specific process, methodology, etc. So, if we
aren't looking critically at all those things, then no, we aren't
being critical enough of UCD.

Second, while I believe in the basic principle of considering users,
I think the term "user centered design" is sometimes misleading. It
should never mean%u2014"do what the users want". It should mean,
"understand what the user needs and design something that will allow
them to accomplish their goals. Even then, you still shouldn't focus
entirely on the user. I believe that you must always balance 3
things: the user, the business, and the technology. And sometimes the
balance has to lean more towards business or technology, depending on
the constraints of the project.

Finally, I think that Dave Malouf's request to "show me a major
success (Apple-like success) that was based on UCD", isn't the
right way to measure UCD (or more specifically, a UCD process). Apple
is a major success in a very large, mainstream consumer marketspace.
This presupposes that to be successful, one must have the impact and
sales of a company like Apple. But there are many many designs in the
world that could be considered "successful" if we use more realistic
criteria.

What about an internal software application that measurably improves
employee performance, but is never sold? What about a company that
wins awards for the business software it sells into a smaller market?
What about an e-commerce website that increases customer satisfaction
and sales?
For some examples, you can look at case studies of "successful"
projects at my company, which have used the Contextual Design
process:
http://incontextdesign.com/case-studies/sage-saleslogix-case-study/
http://incontextdesign.com/case-studies/analog-redesign-case-study/

If we want to be more critical about UCD (and I think we should), we
need to be clear about *what* we are evaluating and agree on what
constitutes a *success*.

-dave

David B. Rondeau
Design Chair
InContext Design ( http://www.incontextdesign.com )

http://twitter.com/dbrondeau

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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12 Sep 2009 - 1:47pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi David,

I have to disagree with your dismissal of my request, and coming from
you in particular (InContext) it is almost inappopriate to do so the
way you did. You basically said that b/c your successes are in X
area, then my request for case studies from Y area is not
appropriate. It shows you miss the point of the request.

I KNOW UCD processes have done things at the level your case studies
have done. Heck I teach CI every quarter to my students. Its a great
method indeed. But is sorely limited in its scale and THAT is the
issue we need to address.

No one is saying that UCD processes have had no success for the areas
they have tried to work in. However, I am saying that the scale of our
design problems have changed radically in the last 3 years and that
traditional UCD formal processes do not scale with these problems.

For example, to re-design healthcare, the models of CI would be
completely insufficient because they are way too focused. The use of
affinities itself cannot scale to such big problems because the data
sets being looked at cannot work.

Further the goals of a CI practice is task driven, not transformation
driven. It is about re-designing task flows, when in fact what we need
to re-design are collections of different behaviors and cultural
assumptions and the mechanisms needed to create that change.

This is but one example. This is the level that Apple is working at,
when it creates whole new cultures with their products & services.
This is what is going to be required to deal with global political,
economic, and environmental issues.

But none of this means we can't or shouldn't be considering users.
Ravy Sawnhey, Founder of RKS Design, posted this recently:
http://rksdesign.com/who_we_are/index.php/team/
Totally a human-considered process. RKS itself has a pretty formal
human-considered process indeed. They also have amazing case studies
in all sorts of market areas. But I would not consider this
"user-centered" like CI or GDD. instead, it is human-considered.

But this is a tangent to the main point here. The point is around the
fetishization of UCD within the community at the detriment of a more
holistic look. I think Adaptive Path has been trying from the inside
to promote this and obvious Jared Spool has as well. The work of
industrial design firms that have taken on more interest in
transformation design or market innovation design, have definitely
taken this on totally.

So the consideration of human beings is of paramount importance, but
our use of traditional UCD methods that are not considering a more
holistic approach have probably demonstrated their limitations at
addressing larger scale design issues, and possibly maybe have
limited our abilities at looking at smaller design issues more
holistically as well.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486

12 Sep 2009 - 1:58pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Here is a case study available at the DMI site:

http://www.dmi.org/dmi/html/publications/casestudy/
fullabstract_dmicase.jsp?itemID=DMC9994025

I have to admit I have not read it. But I have absolutely no interest
or use for tightly wound process... even if they are user centered.

Again, for the most part when folks talk about 'user centered', even
if they do say UCD, they are more often talking more about a
philosophy that puts the user's need first in product development.
And, not at the exclusion of the business' needs or the technical
capabilities and requirements.

If you are a contract design firm, its pretty easy to get distracted
from the true values and forces that lead to successful innovation
and focus on your customer's needs. After all you're in business for
yourself, and few very firms have the chops to arrange fees based
upon ROI or the long term sustainable success of the product they
helped to develop.

Mark

On Sep 10, 2009, at 8:02 AM, dave malouf wrote:

>
> It all prompted me to ask on my blog show me a major success
> (Apple-like success) that was based on UCD. No answers yet. ;-)
>
> http://davemalouf.com/?p=1694
>
> -- dave
>

12 Sep 2009 - 2:24pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

To All:

How sad this continuing pseudo debate about "UCD" is. I am (with colleagues)
responsible for the LUCID Framework which was a UCD Framework widely-used in
the 1990's. (LUCID stood for Logical User-Centered Interaction Design).

I don't know anyone today who insists that the methodology of UCD should be
preserved and followed as if it were a religious tract. For its time UCD was
revolutionary. Today it is dated. It should evolve to embrace social media,
mobile devices, and all the other wonderful and exciting interactive
technologies that are emerging.

What should not change is our focus on the user. We are interaction
designers. That means that we design interactions between people ("users")
and interactive products. Since neither our business nor technical
colleagues typically take ownership of the user experience, we play a
critical role in making products that are useful, usable and desirable.

What makes me so sad is that instead of using our collective wisdom to
evolve UCD into a 21st century framework that still advocates for the user
while supporting business and technology goals, we go around and around with
the same tired arguments.

We need to get past ideology and focus on deeper issues.

Charlie
============================
Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D.
CEO, Cognetics Corporation
============================

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Dave
Malouf
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2009 11:48 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] How trendy is UCD? Are we critical enough about
it?

Hi David,

I have to disagree with your dismissal of my request, and coming from
you in particular (InContext) it is almost inappopriate to do so the
way you did. You basically said that b/c your successes are in X
area, then my request for case studies from Y area is not
appropriate. It shows you miss the point of the request.

I KNOW UCD processes have done things at the level your case studies
have done. Heck I teach CI every quarter to my students. Its a great
method indeed. But is sorely limited in its scale and THAT is the
issue we need to address.

No one is saying that UCD processes have had no success for the areas
they have tried to work in. However, I am saying that the scale of our
design problems have changed radically in the last 3 years and that
traditional UCD formal processes do not scale with these problems.

For example, to re-design healthcare, the models of CI would be
completely insufficient because they are way too focused. The use of
affinities itself cannot scale to such big problems because the data
sets being looked at cannot work.

Further the goals of a CI practice is task driven, not transformation
driven. It is about re-designing task flows, when in fact what we need
to re-design are collections of different behaviors and cultural
assumptions and the mechanisms needed to create that change.

This is but one example. This is the level that Apple is working at,
when it creates whole new cultures with their products & services.
This is what is going to be required to deal with global political,
economic, and environmental issues.

But none of this means we can't or shouldn't be considering users.
Ravy Sawnhey, Founder of RKS Design, posted this recently:
http://rksdesign.com/who_we_are/index.php/team/
Totally a human-considered process. RKS itself has a pretty formal
human-considered process indeed. They also have amazing case studies
in all sorts of market areas. But I would not consider this
"user-centered" like CI or GDD. instead, it is human-considered.

But this is a tangent to the main point here. The point is around the
fetishization of UCD within the community at the detriment of a more
holistic look. I think Adaptive Path has been trying from the inside
to promote this and obvious Jared Spool has as well. The work of
industrial design firms that have taken on more interest in
transformation design or market innovation design, have definitely
taken this on totally.

So the consideration of human beings is of paramount importance, but
our use of traditional UCD methods that are not considering a more
holistic approach have probably demonstrated their limitations at
addressing larger scale design issues, and possibly maybe have
limited our abilities at looking at smaller design issues more
holistically as well.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486

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12 Sep 2009 - 10:38pm
Dave Malouf
2005

But I think the focus "on the user" IS being challenged today more
and more. As the designer is transitioning from artifact creator to
cultural changer, we need to consider more than the human being more
than ever before.

Today's designer needs to NOT center on any elements and in fact be
open to elements previously unconsidered. So I challenge the notion
of any designer centering the user any longer at its core.

Does that mean we stop all consideration of the human beings of the
systems we are designing for and with? HELL NO!!! It just means that
the evolution you are talking about charlie is to just stop centering
on users and to just consider them.

So we need to remove "the user" from our titles and motivations as
designers, and start to work through what it means to take our
expertise in human empathy and assimilate that into other aspects of
design towards holistic solutions.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486

13 Sep 2009 - 2:49am
Adam Korman
2004

Dave,

It seems that you're arguing that the tools and point of view of UCD
aren't relevant because you are now interested in a different class of
problems that is broader than designing products. Where I have trouble
with your argument is when you say that the scale of design problems
has "changed radically in the last 3 years." I think it's more likely
that the scale of problems that you (and many other designers) are
thinking about has changed in that time, and you're finding that UCD
is less relevant as a way to approach solving those problems. That's
fine, but it doesn't mean that UCD doesn't provide a useful way to
approach other kinds of problems (the kinds of design problems which
UCD grew up trying to address, and which are still around) or some
tools to offer for these bigger challenges.

Many technology/product companies (and designers) have no interest (or
business) in addressing the kinds of "larger scale design issues" that
you are talking about. In these environments, there are usually very
few people who look deeply at the problems/solution from the user's
point of view, and if UCD brings more attention to the people who use
the products, that's good. I don't believe that UCD alone creates
great and successful products (or businesses), but it can be an
important part of the mix.

Regards, Adam

On Sep 12, 2009, at 11:47 AM, Dave Malouf wrote:

> No one is saying that UCD processes have had no success for the areas
> they have tried to work in. However, I am saying that the scale of our
> design problems have changed radically in the last 3 years and that
> traditional UCD formal processes do not scale with these problems.
>
and

> This is but one example. This is the level that Apple is working at,
> when it creates whole new cultures with their products & services.
> This is what is going to be required to deal with global political,
> economic, and environmental issues.

13 Sep 2009 - 11:50am
Dave Malouf
2005

Wait, if you are considering other perspectives in your design,
doesn't that mean that the centeredness part is not there any more?

BTW, I think that if you are not thinking bigger than product touch
points, you are probably not going to be doing a really good job
regardless of scale.

And again, I don't know how many times I have to say this. observing
users to gain insights and empathy is as important as ever!!!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486

13 Sep 2009 - 12:35pm
Mark Schraad
2006

user centered does not mean the designer only considers the user to
the exclusion of all other concerns... and it never has.

consider this... which is the larger struggle for the typical
designer... not considering the user, or only considering the user. I
rarely see the later. why fight THAT battle?

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 13, 2009, at 9:50 AM, Dave Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:

> Wait, if you are considering other perspectives in your design,
> doesn't that mean that the centeredness part is not there any more?
>
> BTW, I think that if you are not thinking bigger than product touch
> points, you are probably not going to be doing a really good job
> regardless of scale.
>
> And again, I don't know how many times I have to say this. observing
> users to gain insights and empathy is as important as ever!!!
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

13 Sep 2009 - 3:20pm
Thomas Petersen
2008

It seems obvious from my point of view that UCD is not really useful.
Usability tests, focus groups and so one are money making machines
nothing more.

Users can't help you make decisions so design should never be user
centered. Design should be centered around problem solving. User can
inform you on problems they have but that has nothing to do with UCD.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486

13 Sep 2009 - 7:19pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

I hope this was intended as a joke.

Charlie

============================
Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D.
CEO, Cognetics Corporation
============================

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Thomas
Petersen
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2009 1:20 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] How trendy is UCD? Are we critical enough about
it?

It seems obvious from my point of view that UCD is not really useful.
Usability tests, focus groups and so one are money making machines
nothing more.

Users can't help you make decisions so design should never be user
centered. Design should be centered around problem solving. User can
inform you on problems they have but that has nothing to do with UCD.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

13 Sep 2009 - 7:44pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

<Wait, if you are considering other perspectives in your design,
doesn't that mean that the centeredness part is not there any more?>

Not as I define it. Here is how I defined user-centeredness:

When a decision has to be made and the choice is satisfying the user, or
satisfying a technology concern or satisfying a business want, I will
(within the bounds of good business) give preference to the user.

In other words, I use the term "centered" to mean a tendency to favor the
user when decisions have to be made.

Here are some examples of user-centered decisions as I think of it:

The programmer says that producing good error handling is really too much
work and the user can just call the help desk f there is a problem. I will
favor the user because the cost in usability is great. A techno-centric
decision would have favored the programmer.

The marketing department of the business insists that users register before
they can view product specifications. I will argue for the user who will
find that onerous.

Perhaps these are not the best examples but I hope you get the point.
Someone has to speak for the user. The technology side will fight to make
the development manageable, the business has all sorts of goals. Each will
speak loudly for its priorities and I will speak for the interest of the
user.

I do this, knowing full well that at the end of the day, business and
technology concerns will rule. The business has the purse strings and so
will ultimately control the project. The technology side will decide what it
builds and I have little control over the ultimate product.

I advocate for the user because I know that it will benefit the business. At
its core, the business has determined it wants to invest in a product. To
the extent that we can make that product useful, usable and desirable, we
will attract and retain the audience the business wants.

So, when I define myself as user-centered, I am stating that I have a frank
bias to meeting user needs whenever I can. I will work with the technology
and business sides of the project to try and resolve their concerns in a way
that makes the user experience as positive as I can.

I'll use any methodology that works to get me there.

Charlie

============================
Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D.
CEO, Cognetics Corporation
============================

13 Sep 2009 - 7:59pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

< consider this... which is the larger struggle for the typical
designer... not considering the user, or only considering the user. I
rarely see the later. why fight THAT battle?>

Exactly.

It took 30 years to get to the point where business was willing to
acknowledge that designing for the user matters.

But the new found willingness of business to consider design is just the
beginning of an organizational shift that has not yet occurred. Until the
organization as a whole adopts a user-focus as a core strategy, there will
be too many stakeholders whose agendas clash with the organization's ability
to create and implement good user design.

We will truly be successful as a profession when design, usability and user
experience become driving forces within organizations and not just a "nice
to have." To some extent that shift is occurring, driven by the web and the
vast audience it commands. We should try to influence it by getting our
message clear and communicating it to corporate executives in terms they can
relate to.

Charlie

============================
Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D.
CEO, Cognetics Corporation
============================

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Mark
Schraad
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2009 1:36 PM
To: Dave Malouf
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] How trendy is UCD? Are we critical enough about
it?

user centered does not mean the designer only considers the user to
the exclusion of all other concerns... and it never has.

consider this... which is the larger struggle for the typical
designer... not considering the user, or only considering the user. I
rarely see the later. why fight THAT battle?

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 13, 2009, at 9:50 AM, Dave Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:

> Wait, if you are considering other perspectives in your design,
> doesn't that mean that the centeredness part is not there any more?
>
> BTW, I think that if you are not thinking bigger than product touch
> points, you are probably not going to be doing a really good job
> regardless of scale.
>
> And again, I don't know how many times I have to say this. observing
> users to gain insights and empathy is as important as ever!!!
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

13 Sep 2009 - 8:47pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

I told myself I'd stay away from this thread, but I simply cannot.

----------

On Sep 13, 2009, at 5:44 PM, Charles B. Kreitzberg wrote:

> When a decision has to be made and the choice is satisfying the
> user, or
> satisfying a technology concern or satisfying a business want, I will
> (within the bounds of good business) give preference to the user.
>
> In other words, I use the term "centered" to mean a tendency to
> favor the
> user when decisions have to be made.

This is precisely why I think you are wrong. Yet, I guess we'll never
have that discussion since you are offended when someone like me --
who has twenty years of software and application design experience
under my belt making software for hundreds of millions of people
across a wide range of business and technology types (enterprise to
consumer to creative professional) -- claims that your definition as
you just stated does not yield good design in practice.

In fact, I find your position of favoring the user with this type of
definition as damaging as you feel my position against that approach
is damaging.

> Here are some examples of user-centered decisions as I think of it:
>
> The programmer says that producing good error handling is really too
> much
> work and the user can just call the help desk f there is a problem.
> I will
> favor the user because the cost in usability is great. A techno-
> centric
> decision would have favored the programmer.
>
> The marketing department of the business insists that users register
> before
> they can view product specifications. I will argue for the user who
> will
> find that onerous.
>
> Perhaps these are not the best examples but I hope you get the point.

Not even close to good examples. Telling an engineer to stop being
lazy or marketing people that they are making bad marketing decisions
has nothing to do with needed to favor users. In fact, I often find it
easier to simply tell an engineer to stop being lazy or to tell the
marketing person their decision is costing them money than needing to
fall back on needing to say anything about users.

> Someone has to speak for the user.

Being against UCD does not mean that people like me don't fight the
good fight to make sure products are useful and usable. That's false
equivalency at work, and you need to stop presuming that being against
UCD means someone like me throws users under the bus. It's simply not
true.

> So, when I define myself as user-centered, I am stating that I have
> a frank
> bias to meeting user needs whenever I can.

That puts you at a distinct disadvantage when really good design
solutions present themselves that on the face of it appear to be "bad"
for the user. Especially when you ask them.

My case in point: Unifying the interfaces for the Adobe Creative
Suite. When I did that work, nearly every user of Adobe's products
were peeved and annoyed that so much was being changed to whichever
product they favored. And they were *very* vocal about it. But taking
the long view on it, which I did, the more common approaches and the
big unifying changes actually strengthened the product line,
entrenched the products further from a business and revenue point of
view, worked to broaden the user base as more people started using
more of the products together, and allowed the main products to make
inroads on Windows and in international markets in a way they would
not have been able to had they kept doing their own thing. And in the
end, after the period of transition, the products became far easier to
use together than they ever had through the end of the 80s and the
first part of the 90s.

But all most users saw were major changes, how much was different, how
much they needed to learn or relearn, and a host of things that were
major inconveniences for them in their normal workflows for a year or
so. Nowadays, you can barely find anyone who remembers what the
products were like before I worked to redesign them, and even though
I'm unhappy with much of what happened in CS4 and what I'm seeing for
CS5, a very large portion of the work I did *STILL* holds up today,
more than a decade later.

I guarantee you that favoring the user to make critical design
decisions at that point in time would have been disastrous,
specifically because users can't see the forest for the trees.

My stated position is and always has been: Balance and appropriate
compromise across user needs, technology advancements and business
requirements, not to mention a little playfulness and aesthetic
integrity, will always create better products than user-centered, tech-
centered, or business-centered processes.

-Andrei Herasimchuk

13 Sep 2009 - 10:39pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008

I've been reading these various UCD-related discussions on and off
with a little bit of bemusement for a while now. I'm just trying
here to clarify what the discussion seems to be about from my
interpretation. Apologies for mistakes.

As far as I can see, the real disagreements are about:

a) semantics
b) depth

Why semantics? Dave Malouf says that UCD means basing all decisions
around user data. Magda seems to be saying that UCD is having users
actually make decisions. Charles says it doesn't mean either of
these but rather means advocating the users concerns along other
product concerns. If my impression correct, perhaps we have
"strong" and "weak" definitions here? There is a difference in
definition of what UCD is and until this is clarified, there won't
be agreement and we will chase each others tails until kingdom come.
Oh yes and Thomas seems to say that user information is damaging.
Given that I've based design decisions around the workflows of
expert users elicited from many hours of patient observation to
success, and seen business-, technical- and marketing-driven
decisions drive products into the ground I would have to disagree
that it is only and always "not really useful".

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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13 Sep 2009 - 10:39pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008

[apologies for posting in 2 posts - the web form won't allow the
whole lot in one go]

And depth? I mean to what extent should user information be used and
to what degree it should impact upon the product design? Having
worked in lots of different fields (heavyweight industrial through to
quick and dirty), I would say that this depends upon the tasks, users
and what the product is supposed to achieve. To rigidly be for or
against any philosophy doesn't work for me. My job is to take
business and technical requirements, elicit customer requirements,
and merge the lot into a product that meets all of them as best as
can be managed. To do this, I will use any research method out there
that gets valid results and I'm not too fussed about UCD (and this
after being taught by one of the original writers about UCD!). I'm
not sure if UCD prescribes specific practices - could anyone
enlighten me if it does, or am I mistaken here?

btw Andrei - all power to you there mate, but I find that telling
programmers and especially marketeers (given their influence) not to
be lazy usually results in problems in the longer term. Having a
justification based around the quality of the final product always
worked better for me personally particularly if an exec decides that
I'm being obtuse.

I don't think any of us (Thomas aside, if I'm reading you
correctly) seriously believe that information gathered from users is
useless. In the right time and place, and if valid, it has a useful
role in informing design. The real skill is in working out what the
questions are and getting valid data to answer them but that's
another argument and believe me, that one would run on even longer!

Does this make sense?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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13 Sep 2009 - 11:50pm
Thomas Petersen
2008

It wasn't ment as a joke, but it wasn't meant as some seem to
suggest and I am generalizing of course.

Let me put it another way.

UCD seems to be a favorite of academics.

On paper it looks good.

You find some test subjects, you test for various tasks and you
interpret that into some sort of report with recommendations for the
client or your own company.

But the problem is simply that you are still a far cry from having
solved the real problems. Often you are just solving some pseudo
problems inherrent in the nature of a prototype, the specification or
the wireframes.

The real problems wont show itself until you actually launch the
product or service. THAT is where you need to do your (quantitative)
user tests to see if people follow the paths you hope.

Some designers focus to much on the aesthetics that is problematic
to, they see themselves more as artists than problem solvers. Become
an artist I say.

But my experience from the last 14 years of working with
Design/UX/IA/ID/Development is that the academics who can't actually
design anything loves UCD because it helps them make the decisions
their non-existent design background can't. Where as actual
experienced designers (here i mean those who pushes the pixels
around)

And I have done my share of UCD, it just doesn't add any real value
IMHO. It's a pseudo process used by those who lack the
background/experience to make design decisions themselves. It solves
Pseudo problems.

Can you use it. Sure.

Just don't expect to get a better result than that of any
experienced designer not using UCD.

Is user input valuable. Of course it is, very, it's as important
than ever. Just not for the reasons that it's used by UCD.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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13 Sep 2009 - 11:51pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 13, 2009, at 8:39 PM, Alan Salmoni wrote:

> btw Andrei - all power to you there mate, but I find that telling
> programmers and especially marketeers (given their influence) not to
> be lazy usually results in problems in the longer term.

Let's be clear. The example, as given, was:

"The programmer says that producing good error handling is really too
much work and the user can just call the help desk f there is a
problem."

I read that as a programmer being flippant and lazy. And when an
engineer tells me this as the reason for *not* doing something as
designed or to make a better designed product, you can damn well be
sure I will call them out, and in public.

So, I'm not advocating telling programmers they are lazy. I am
advocating calling out programmers who say users can just call the
help line to bypass a crappy feature since it would be too much work
to otherwise fix it.

-Andrei

14 Sep 2009 - 1:38am
Thomas Petersen
2008

Googles focus seems more speed centered than it's user centered. So I
don't believe that is a good example.

Pagerank was not based on users either but on an approach to search
and prioritizing.

Googles clean look was not some well thought out process involving
the users. It was simply based on observation other sites and the
fact that it was a beta version the became successful.

Again you don't need to do UCD to have the user one of your main
focuses.

The question is HOW you use user input not if you should.

UCD assumes that you create better products by involving the user in
the design process. That is what is wrong with UCD.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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14 Sep 2009 - 2:00am
Jarod Tang
2007

On Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 7:38 AM, Thomas Petersen <tp at hellobrand.com> wrote:

> Googles focus seems more speed centered than it's user centered. So I
> don't believe that is a good example.
>
> Pagerank was not based on users either but on an approach to search
> and prioritizing.
>
> Googles clean look was not some well thought out process involving
> the users. It was simply based on observation other sites and the
> fact that it was a beta version the became successful.
>
> Again you don't need to do UCD to have the user one of your main
> focuses.
>
> The question is HOW you use user input not if you should.
>
> UCD assumes that you create better products by involving the user in
> the design process. That is what is wrong with UCD.
>
>
> As guys claimed in previous thread, it's the reason why people argue on it
( because different understanding on UCD ), my humble version is "have the
user as the main focuses" instead of classic "involving the user in the
design process" (though it happens sometimes).
Back to the PageRank case, for me, it's focus on user's needs and intention
because it seeks provide more relevant result, so it's UCD for me ( as it's
XXX for others).
UCD or not is more a name game, real stuff lies in practice (And, I prefer
UCD for now, :) ).

Regards,
-- Jarod

> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=45486
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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--
@jarodtang
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

14 Sep 2009 - 2:11am
Thomas Petersen
2008

Again

Why are you and others assuming that users are not always in the
center when one is designing?

How can you not have the user in the center?

The difference is that UCD insist on a process that involves the user
in the actual design process to inform the design.

That is what is the problem. Not hat one of course have to relate to
those using your application.

But UCD does not solve the problem it intents to solve, which is to
reach better design decisions.

Google is by no definition user centered, it's data centered.

Google Maps, data centered

Do they use user input, sure, but it's not a showstopper which UCD
implies.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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14 Sep 2009 - 2:33am
Jarod Tang
2007

On Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 8:11 AM, Thomas Petersen <tp at hellobrand.com> wrote:

> Again
>
> Why are you and others assuming that users are not always in the
> center when one is designing?
>
> I never assuming this.

> How can you not have the user in the center?
>
> Great question, and I never disagree with this. ( But it seems not everyone
agree with this? )

> The difference is that UCD insist on a process that involves the user
> in the actual design process to inform the design.
>
That is what is the problem. Not hat one of course have to relate to
> those using your application.
>
> But UCD does not solve the problem it intents to solve, which is to
> reach better design decisions.
>
> Google is by no definition user centered, it's data centered.
>
> Google Maps, data centered
>
> Do they use user input, sure, but it's not a showstopper which UCD
> implies.
>
> As said, if you define UCD as always needs direct user input, go ahead, and
I'll disagree as well. But for Google's case, my questions is ( as previous)
"what's behind the data?", it's people, isn't it? is it more on data or on
people(needs and motivation)? (i would say it's more on people's side, this
why data centered maybe more problematic for Google's case even though many
people like quote as this)

But, I do agree with what you mean ( UCD, directly involves the user, is
not a necessary). And thanks for kick on the head, :).

Cheers,
-- Jarod

--
@jarodtang
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

14 Sep 2009 - 2:52am
Alan James Salmoni
2008

>From what I understand, the data that Google are centred around is
user data (for right or for wrong):
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/business/01marissa.html?pagewanted=3

"Since then, she said, she has asked her team to test the 41
gradations between the competing blues to see which ones consumers
might prefer."

@Andrei - ah ok. I saw it as a dev trying to shortcut the process
because he / she is under pressure and overworked. One example I
recall being asked to produce close on fifty separate messages for
subtle differences in context when one generic message could have
covered most of them but less well. I can sympathise with them. The
devs I work with are truly excellent and work very hard indeed, but
it's not their job to be sympathetic to users needs. Their job is to
get the code out and they are trained to re-use things so I can't
blame them. Again, I would re-state that explaining the effects of
poor messaging and benefits of good messaging (esp with evidence)
might be more convincing. Plus getting the devs to grok design and
users needs is one of the most effective design tools we have.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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14 Sep 2009 - 3:03am
Alan James Salmoni
2008

@Thomas: "The difference is that UCD insist on a process that
involves the user in the actual design process to inform the design.
"

Thanks for the reply Thomas. I'm asking out of curiosity here - to
what extent do you believe that UCD involves the user in the actual
design process? Do you mean to make actual design decisions? (ie, if
users say, "no, move than widget there" then you move that widget
there) Or do you mean user's words are taken as valid? Can they be
trumped in the UCD philosophy?

I guess I'm trying to understand what you mean by "involve" and
"inform" more than anything.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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14 Sep 2009 - 5:15am
Thomas Petersen
2008

Again

All design is user centered, it's not like someone don't considder
the user.

The challenge haa always been, how do one best design for the user.

UCD is an attempt to solve that problem by including the users in the
design process.

If you by UCD means the design should have the usage of real users as
it's goal then of course.

That is not what UCD to my knowledge means. It means that the user is
partaking in designing it. That they have a say on how a given will
end up. That their input is used to make decisions with, not just as
input before the design process starts.

That is the difference.

If you don't have a design background (whatever selftaught or
academic) then UCD makes a lot of sense since it helps you make those
decisions.

But you don't need it if you know how to design and you don't get
better results just because you use it.

It's really quite simple. If you know how to design, if you have
spent a considderable time with the trade, then there is no reason
why you should use UCD.

In 99% of the cases what is being created is repetition of what have
already been done.

If you want to create something truly new (such as a different type
of pointer instead of a mouse) then it's obvious you need to involve
the users. But then again if you do that then you are most probably an
engineer and not an academic.

Most people I know how favors UCD are people with an academic
background, they suddently found themselves in this field, they
didn't work their way through the different skillsets needed to
really understand the user.

They understand the user from an intellectual point of view, but they
don't "get" the users relation to the application cause they never
really spend the time actually working with the nitty gritty.

Of course I am generalizing, but there is a reason for that
generalizing and that is that there are much truth in it.

UCD is an academic discipline it's not a design discipline, you
don't learn from UCD what you can't learn from looking at
quantitative data, how the user REALLY moves around, the problems the
user REALLY have.

Instead you get opnions most of the time, simply just opinions that
don't reflect the actual behavior of the user online.

Just as en example. The expert users will often in a usability test
play dumb. They will act as if they are the usability experts
themselves and thus create a false idea about the issues that might
exist.

There really is only one way to get to a great product and that is.

Design > Deploy > Test

It requires skilled designers with a lot of experience and good
intuition.

Everything else is IMO just play for the gallery.

I have done both UCD and Genius for many times now and I always end
up with better products when I use the users to define their problems
and then design a solution instead of involving the user in the
decision making process.

It might keep a lot of academical trained people in job, but the
value is really not in the UCD approach but rather in learning to
define the problems you want to solve and then solve them rather than
creating a pseudo debate in the middle of the design process that only
muddles the clarity.

That does not mean that there aren't great academical people out
there who understands this, but in most cases UCD is simply a poor
replacement for a proper designer with no real added value outside of
the closed premise of UCD itself.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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14 Sep 2009 - 5:32am
Thomas Petersen
2008

Reading the book "On interaction" by Bill Moodridge it's quite
obvious that Google didn't have utilize UCD.

They saw a problem with how search-engines at that time was
approached and found a different way to approach it.

The page was just done quickly to get something up and running and lo
and behold it worked people used it.

The greatest successes of google are based around people.

Google Maps (Two danes who got acquired by google)
Google Wave (the same two danes)

Google News (some guy at google just did it for fun)

Gmail (the basic principles again where done by some guy not
involving users to create the fundamental idea)

Google is data centric. To them data is everything.

Do they use UCD sure they do, but they didn't need to.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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14 Sep 2009 - 5:42am
Alan James Salmoni
2008

Thanks Thomas. To be honest, I always took this:

"It means that the user is partaking in designing it. That they have
a say on how a given will end up. That their input is used to make
decisions with, not just as input before the design process starts."

to be participatory design. I always took UCD to mean that user's
needs (and not users themselves) were placed well in the centre (but
not exclusively) of the design process. So that, for example, when
designing a piece of equipment to support surgery, the workflows of
the medical staff in theatre would be elicited (both explicit and
implicit knowledge) in order to make sure that the thing didn't get
in the way but that it could be learned quickly and easily and
reduced errors and the magnitude of errors. Having worked in a
hospital, I can tell of some disasterous pieces of equipment that had
a negative impact on people's lives due to poor design. I know it
isn't very artistic, but it is design nonetheless. From my training
as a psych, there are ways to tease this information out but it takes
a lot of work with training and experience to do it well.

Quantitative data has played quite a role in design. Some of my
design research relied almost entirely upon quantitative data with
recourse to qualitative data only when no other alternative existed.
I guess we might disagree over this, but it does feel like user
centred design to me simply because the user's needs are core to the
design itself. I really wasn't aware that UCD demanded only
qualitative data.

Thanks again - it's an interesting conversation!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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14 Sep 2009 - 6:48am
Thomas Petersen
2008

"I always took UCD to mean that user's needs (and not users
themselves) were placed well in the centre (but not exclusively) of
the design process."

Yeah I guess we disagree here. When I normally get involved in UCD it
has a specific process in mind resembling that which I outlined.
Perhaps the issue is that the origninal intent have mutated.

"Having worked in a hospital, I can tell of some disasterous pieces
of equipment that had a negative impact on people's lives due to
poor design."

Sure as I said, if you are doing something truly new that don't have
a well established set of design patterns you will involve the users
to a great extent.

But these kinds of projects are the exception not the rule. For most
cases where UCD is hailed as the way forward we are talking about
standard design problems (need to create a timesheet application,
video player, financial application, community etc.

"I know it isn't very artistic, but it is design nonetheless. From
my training as a psych, there are ways to tease this information out
but it takes a lot of work with training and experience to do it
well."

I don't believe in "artistic" I believe in problem solving. Design
is the ability to make informed decisions solving various problems.
It's not game of aesthetics although they do have a positive impact
on clarity when applied properly.

"But it does feel like user centred design to me simply because the
user's needs are core to the design itself. I really wasn't aware
that UCD demanded only qualitative data."

It doesn't but it puts a certain weight to it that is unwarrented
the way it's used in most cases.

Of course the user is always in center that is exactly what I and
others are saying.

It's just not in the center as it's used most often in UCD which to
me is a specific approach towards designing solutions.

At the end of the day the real test is the final product, someone has
to sit there and move the pixels around so they make sense. Involving
the user as most agencies do when they claim UCD is simply not
enough.

It is of course enough for the clients because they can then always
defend poor results with user testing.

It's become a placebo that don't really solve the problem IMHO.

The real trick is to understand what users do, not what they say they
do or want to do.

With regards to quantitative data I would bet you that if we did a
sample of 20 agencies that claimed they used UCD, perhaps only one
actually used quantitative data.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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14 Sep 2009 - 6:53am
Thomas Petersen
2008

Doh!

"Designing Interactions" is of course the name of Bill Moggridges
book.

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14 Sep 2009 - 7:25am
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

<All design is user centered, it's not like someone don't consider
the user.>

Actually, in my experience that is not true. When we began focusing on
usability in the 1980's, the user was rarely thought about. The reason is
that at time the users were all employees and were paid to learn and use the
systems. So the culture of software development largely ignored the user
except to learn what functions it needed to provide.

Until the past few years, it was often difficult to convince business that
the users mattered much. While it's a lot better now, I see posts on this
list that suggest it's still a problem.

I don't think it is wise to be complacent. Business will only value design
if they see it as contributing to their bottom line. And let's face it,
businesses are often narrow minded, risk averse, chaotic, and pulled in
multiple directions by stakeholders with agendas. This is not an environment
in which it is easy to develop good designs and maintain their integrity
through implementation.

Achieving success requires both good design and the ability to manage the
environment so that you can get there.

Charlie

============================
Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D.
Cognetics Corporation
============================

14 Sep 2009 - 8:06am
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

< There is a difference in definition of what UCD is and until this is
clarified, there won't be agreement and we will chase each others tails
until kingdom come.>

That is correct.

The related issue I want to point out is that in the executive suite the
questions is framed more like "User what? Why should I spend time on this?"

So while we are busy chasing our tails we are missing the opportunity to
make real and powerful statements that can help us gain influence.

Charlie

============================
Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D.
CEO, Cognetics Corporation
============================

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Alan
Salmoni
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2009 8:39 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] How trendy is UCD? Are we critical enough about
it?

I've been reading these various UCD-related discussions on and off
with a little bit of bemusement for a while now. I'm just trying
here to clarify what the discussion seems to be about from my
interpretation. Apologies for mistakes.

As far as I can see, the real disagreements are about:

a) semantics
b) depth

Why semantics? Dave Malouf says that UCD means basing all decisions
around user data. Magda seems to be saying that UCD is having users
actually make decisions. Charles says it doesn't mean either of
these but rather means advocating the users concerns along other
product concerns. If my impression correct, perhaps we have
"strong" and "weak" definitions here? There is a difference in
definition of what UCD is and until this is clarified, there won't
be agreement and we will chase each others tails until kingdom come.
Oh yes and Thomas seems to say that user information is damaging.
Given that I've based design decisions around the workflows of
expert users elicited from many hours of patient observation to
success, and seen business-, technical- and marketing-driven
decisions drive products into the ground I would have to disagree
that it is only and always "not really useful".

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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14 Sep 2009 - 9:38am
Alan James Salmoni
2008

@Thomas: I think I understand what you mean. Curiously, what you
embrace as problem solving in opposition to the "mostly opinions"
approach of what you call UCD is what I would call UCD.

"With regards to quantitative data I would bet you that if we did a
sample of 20 agencies that claimed they used UCD, perhaps only one
actually used quantitative data."

The important thing here is this: are the results valid. If they are,
then qualitative data are good. If not, then they are not regardless
of what the data are. The real difference is having someone who knows
what they're doing. You criticise academics, but I've seen a fair
few cowboys in industry over the years. This is probably where this
disparity in UCD's definition comes from. Perhaps you disagree with
the lack of real skills that some practitioners have? After all, if
they make a bundle of errors based upon misconceptions about an
approach, does that make the approach worthless?

btw, I'd disagree about there being no need for testing for
relatively familiar things. An awful lot in my experience is counter
intuitive and seemingly simple things can interact in unexpected
ways. Good testing can also show up stuff that designers might never
consider.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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14 Sep 2009 - 9:41am
Thomas Petersen
2008

I don't even understand how someone could claim that I have said that
user information is damaging. That is by no measure what I said.

What I am basically saying is that UCD in itself does not solve the
problem that it intents to solve.

UCD does not give you better information about the user, that is what
I am saying.

Charles

I am well aware of what clients want, don't want, understasnd etc.
but I am simply saying that from my experience which is considerable
UCD have never helped make a product more successful.

That does not mean that the user is not important but simply not for
the reasons and by the process of UCD.

I have simply yet to see what the insights UCD gives you that can't
be measured and superseeded by experienced designers.

The problems that you solve with the UCD process is inherrent in the
UCD process itself.

For instance you create a new navigation based on user inputs and
then test it on the user.

Unless you actually give them the finished experience you have no way
of knowing whether the problem is with the navigation or whether it's
because the navigation is shown in a prototype. The context get's
lost and so do the validity of the data.

You have to get it out there and have people use it and then get the
feedback, not try to solve it within the process before you launch
it.

Unless of course you are solving some really fundamental problems,
but that is not the case in 99% of the situations where UCD is used.

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14 Sep 2009 - 9:43am
Alan James Salmoni
2008

@Charles: "Actually, in my experience that is not true. When we began
focusing on usability in the 1980's, the user was rarely thought
about."

Very true and not uncommon today. There are still products brought
out from a business perspective and 'bestowed' upon users from up
on high that it's easy to forget how rare it was that any company
grokked realising the value of good design years ago. Lotus Notes
anyone?

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14 Sep 2009 - 10:44am
Thomas Petersen
2008

"The important thing here is this: are the results valid. If they
are, then qualitative data are good. If not, then they are not
regardless of what the data are. The real difference is having
someone who knows what they're doing."

Knowing what they are doing with regards to what?

Knowing how to take user input and feed it into the design
considerations?

Sure but that is not really the challenge. The challenge is to
actually create the product, the solution that you end up with, not
just the considerations behind it, not just the intellectual part but
the actual "creation" with the pixels and the metaphors and the
choreography.

It's not about that "what" but about the "how". That is what
sets a solution apart. How is something actually implemented, not
just what is implemented. And that users can't help you test unless
you actually make some decisions and "run the program" so to speak.

"The important thing here is this: are the results valid. If they
are, then qualitative data are good. If not, then they are not
regardless of what the data are."

But the question is valid measured up against what? The UCD process
or the actual finished product/service/application. How do you know
that it was the UCD process and not just the designers and developers
who did a great job with their typography, grid, transitions etc.

"The real difference is having someone who knows what they're
doing. You criticise academics, but I've seen a fair few cowboys in
industry over the years. This is probably where this disparity in
UCD's definition comes from. Perhaps you disagree with the lack of
real skills that some practitioners have? After all, if they make a
bundle of errors based upon misconceptions about an approach, does
that make the approach worthless?"

The problem is not that they are academic. I know enough great
designer with an academic background. The problem is that most
academics don't have the skills to actually implement their
insights.

UCD don't solve the actual problems (how does it actually work and
look and feel) but solves the process of structuring the input from
users. It asumes it's conclusion IMHO.

There is no real beneficial transcendence so to speak for the UCD
process into how the designer, developer actually implements it.

You can have the most well thought out process if your designers are
shit your product will be shit. If your designer are great they will
make your product great even if you have a novice UCD process.

I don't mind people using UCD but I mind it when they claim that
they are suddently taking the user into account as if others don't
or that the process deliver actual value that can't be solved with
an experienced designer.

"btw, I'd disagree about there being no need for testing for
relatively familiar things. An awful lot in my experience is counter
intuitive and seemingly simple things can interact in unexpected
ways. Good testing can also show up stuff that designers might never
consider."

Again you can test all you want, the problem is that there is only
one test and that is the final product.

Let me put this a little bit differently.

If you where to decide between testing during the process or testing
after the implimentation and could only choose one of them, what
would you choose?

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14 Sep 2009 - 10:48am
Thomas Petersen
2008

@Charles: "Actually, in my experience that is not true. When we began
focusing on usability in the 1980's, the user was rarely thought
about."

What do you mean with rarely thought about? What ever application you
where doing at that point it clearly had users in mind didn't it?

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14 Sep 2009 - 10:53am
Thomas Petersen
2008

I would also take issue with this "advocate for the user" claim that
many proponents of UCD seems to be flagging.

You are advocate for your approach to the user perhaps, but it seems
like almost a claim for moral superiority when I hear this claim.

I always design with the user in mind, I just don't use the user in
the middle of the process.

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14 Sep 2009 - 11:25am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 14 Sep 2009, at 00:52, Alan James Salmoni wrote:

>> From what I understand, the data that Google are centred around is
> user data (for right or for wrong):
> http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/business/01marissa.html?pagewanted=3
>
> "Since then, she said, she has asked her team to test the 41
> gradations between the competing blues to see which ones consumers
> might prefer."
>
> @Andrei - ah ok. I saw it as a dev trying to shortcut the process
> because he / she is under pressure and overworked. One example I
> recall being asked to produce close on fifty separate messages for
> subtle differences in context when one generic message could have
> covered most of them but less well. I can sympathise with them.

... and of course. Depending on the other work that needed to be done,
the deadlines, etc. making the call to save energy in one place, by
using a more generic message, and spending it elsewhere to give a
truly excellent experience may be 100% correct.

Cheers,

Adrian
--
http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh

14 Sep 2009 - 1:01pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I admit it. I give up. or another way to say it ... "It Depends".

Charlie and I are working and living in different worlds it seems.
That's real as the world is maybe bigger and rounder than the media
would like us to think.

That is to say that if it's workin' for ya keep using it, if it
isn't then stop.

I think from my vantage point which I think is more generically
design-influenced at this point, it is clear that the leaders of
design practice have been user inclusive for the greater part of a
couple of millenia going back to Roman Architecture. BUT! I can see
how people who have been involved in more engineering focused
creative organizations DO need to maintain what feels like to me a
mission of "user-centeredness".

There is no arguing this point outside of specific contexts of
deployment.

-- dave

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14 Sep 2009 - 2:01pm
Thomas Petersen
2008

Charlie

I am curious.

I had a look at your company. It seems like you are doing everything
but actual designing the solutions (on a pixel basis).

How do you make sure that the actual solutions your company come up
with are being implemented properly when it reaches design and
implementation?

How does the insights you create and the wireframe I am guessing you
create, transcending into actual design?

It seems to me that if you can't solve that then you are running the
risk of being a Jakob Nielsen who might now alot about user behavior
but don't walk the walk (not saying that you don't walk the walk I
am assuming you do)

Do you care about the actual design and development implementation
and how do you ensure that the quality that you achieve get's
carried into the actual products?

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14 Sep 2009 - 5:50pm
Jesse Zolna
2008

"If you where to decide between testing during the process or testing
after the implimentation and could only choose one of them, what would
you choose?"

Is that a trick question? Why test after implementation, when
changes can no longer be made?

I think there is a difference between Participatory Design and UCD.
E.g., Participatory = let users create architecture. UCD = consider
users in defining architecture (as opposed to using industry jargon,
corporate structure, alphabetical listing or a random number
generator). I think participatory is what some of you are arguing
against, and UCD is what some are defending. Maybe. Again, it is
all in the semantics.

No, users will not design the most compelling product, but they will
give ideas, push you in the right direction, and help you see things
from their POV. User input is invaluable. Of course, you must take
that input with a grain of salt, and incorporate other data
(including technology constraints, business goals, an understanding
of the world, aesthetic sensibilities etc.) into the design.

I am curious about all your thoughts, esp Malouf's, on this article,
http://twurl.nl/vx4bf0 (via @armano) as it seems to be holistic and
heavily customer centered at the same time.

As an interesting aside, Unilever is going the
participatory/crowdsourcing route for their advertising, which may or
may not be advisable, but should be interesting anyway.
http://ow.ly/pip6 (via @dyalnviner)

@zolna

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14 Sep 2009 - 6:04pm
Thomas Petersen
2008

What do you mean that changes can't be tested after implementation?

That is the whole point of this discussion. Where should you test,
how should you test, when should you test, how should you use data.

"UCD = consider users in defining architecture"

That is by no definition neither in theory nor in practice what UCD
is from what I have seen.

UCD is a set of tools for making sure that the users is part of the
process in making decisions.

If the proponents of UCD is simply saying "consider users" then we
are all doing UCD.

But that is not what they are saying. They are saying that you need
to involve the user and use their inputs from focus groups, usability
tests etc.

"No, users will not design the most compelling product, but they
will give ideas, push you in the right direction, and help you see
things from their POV."

I am not interested in their POV. I am interested in how they
actually behave. I am not interested in their ideas, I am interested
in their problems, there is no such thing as a "right" direction.

All these things don't need UCD it needs proper designers that
understands both users and how to solve problems for the users.

It's no coincidence that quite a few UCD companies don't do the
actual implementation.

"participatory/crowdsourcing"

That field is something completely different from UCD.

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14 Sep 2009 - 6:05pm
Thomas Petersen
2008

"What do you mean that changes can't be tested after implementation?
"

Should have been

"changes can't be made"

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14 Sep 2009 - 7:48pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Jesse,

Nice read. I like the historical reference.
but besides that, despite amazingly smart people promoting social
business design like @armano and the rest of @dachis I am not yet
convinced that this is the end-all that some of my peers believe. I
think that notions of "conversation" is not the same as
"participatory design" and definitely not observation in context or
testing.

I think I'm not convinced b/c for the most part I don't see in
myself or in my observations that there is more than a small %age of
people interested in "conversation" with their brands. I think it
is presumptuous.

But I'm taking a sit back and wait attitude. I'm all for
experimenting and measuring and see what happens and I hope that
organizations like @dachis will present amazing case studies of their
work across as broad swath of industries and market segments and
demographics.

Anyway, I don't see this is UCD.

- dave

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14 Sep 2009 - 7:58pm
Jesse Zolna
2008

I may have overstated by point, I meant more difficult to make the
changes. I will say that it kinda depends what you mean by "after
implementation." Keep in mind, there are popular delivery models
that don't allow for frequent updating of a product's design after
release, which can be synonymous with implementation. My point
really was something akin to the old adage that it is easier to make
changes early, so it is smart test early.

Also, I should have looked at Wikipedia, because it seems that
Participatory design is one method of UCD. hmm. From now on when I
say UCD I mean User Considered Design. I just might consider them
more strongly than others. And also use their input to develop ideas.

The difference in engineering vs design backgrounds may well be the
issue here. I think you can make a similar point for different
classes of products. Therefore, I give up too. If you are an
amazing designer and you have all the answers, then the people who
will eventually use your products have nothing to add. If that works
for you, by all means continue on.

It is also no coincidence that many products are designed and brought
to market with basic and egregious usability issues.

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15 Sep 2009 - 12:30am
Thomas Petersen
2008

" Keep in mind, there are popular delivery models that don't allow
for frequent updating of a product's design after release, which can
be synonymous with implementation. My point really was something akin
to the old adage that it is easier to make changes early, so it is
smart test early."

But the problem with testing early is that you are often testing a
product that don't exist yet, that don't have any tangibility. So
what you are testing is your wireframe and not the actual end
product. Again if we are talking about something new and unique of
course you should test it and use users, but that is not the case in
99% of the situations UCD is applied.

It's much better IMHO to build in very early (what do users want)
phase and a later (who do users actually use) phase than what we
normally see which is in the actual process.

And that has a lot to do with the academic background that most UCD
proponents have. They don't have the background for learning how to
actually design, but on how to gather information and structure it.
Of course that becomes their approach then.

"It is also no coincidence that many products are designed and
brought to market with basic and egregious usability issues."

Despite many of these being put trough UCD.

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15 Sep 2009 - 12:40am
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

It's called anthropology and psychology research, no?

> But the problem with testing early is that you are often testing a
> product that don't exist yet, that don't have any tangibility.

15 Sep 2009 - 12:52am
Thomas Petersen
2008

Anthropology and psychology are great for finding out the problems
that needs to be addressed it does not transcend into the actual
design of the product/service.

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