Posts Tagged ‘ user-centered design ’

Class notes F15 – Weeks 1 & 2

Some things to remember from the first 2 classes:

  • evolution of how we think about design: from human factors approaches to improving interfaces to user-centered system design and further on to reflecting on the impact of our design on people and society as well as stimulating reflection on their part: “…as technology designers it can be both exhilarating and unnerving to see how the design decisions we make, consciously or unconsciously, shape the micro-texture of people’s everyday experiences.” (from Reflective Design). Remember the 3 “camps” we talked about: UCD-ACD-GDD-UX vs. critical/reflective vs. human factors and their distinguishing features.
  • the concept of affordance
  • in UCSD, user error = poor design (Norman doors)
  • I also showed you some fun infographics about the various skills and disciplines involved in UX work. Here is my collection on Pinterest. Look at them a bit closer, and think about where you are and where you would want to be.
  • I invite you to think about which of the values and design philosophies we discussed appeals to you and aligns with your personal values and ethics.
  • some important names/authors: Don Norman (UCSD, ACD), Alan Cooper (GDD), Karen Holtzblatt (contextual design)

What are the most important 1-3 ideas you took away from class?


Fall 2014 Class notes: Types of Design

We began class by furthering our exploration of “natural” and “intuitive” interaction with computers. We played around with the idea of tangible design, informed by the belief that using our bodies is natural and intuitive. The argument comes from Paul Dourish’s book Where the Action Is. See also the tangible interfaces lab at MIT.

Quick recap of the very big main points about the design process to take away from week 2:

  1. There are many types and approaches to design. UCD is not alone. The main differences among them are in philosophy (the central goal) and some of the methods and procedures. For example, the central goal of critical design is to raise awareness, to help people reflect upon and question the status quo. The central goal of GDD is to design for the users’ larger aspirations, whereas ACD focuses on structuring tools to facilitate an activity. Be sure to remember and be able to differentiate among UCD, GDD, ACD, participatory design and critical design. Interested in the theory behind critical design? Read up on critical theory – here’s a very quick introduction. Or, you might be interested in Norman’s controversial piece against human-centered design and in support of ACD. It’s a bit inflammatory, he has some clarifications to it, and overall, it does make sense, IMO.
  2. UCD is an approach and a process. It is a philosophy, a value system about how we approach design, but also a  specific set of steps, procedures, methods, and principles. The major steps of UCD are: user research, conceptual design, implementation, and evaluation.

If you have further questions about the things we discussed in class tonight, please ask them in the comments below.

Class notes: User research wrap-up

We just finished up the first big part of the User-Centered Design process, user research.

We moved from learning about planning and conducting user research to analyzing data into the form of personas and then using scenarios to derive specific design requirements. The course is designed so that you apply these concepts in upcoming assignments. So, the user research project that you will conduct is meant for you to implement these same steps. As you can begin to see, doing the work raises issues that are not as straightforward as they seem when we read about them.

We used the quotes in the slides below to provide integration and meaning to what we have done so far and what we are doing in this class:

Should you need a more linear, defined outline of the steps in the UCD process, please go through the slides I use for my undergraduate class:

The main points to remember so far are, that if you want to build GOOD, useful, and successful computer products:

  1. You need to put the users first.
  2. You need to understand very well actual users – talk to actual people. Avoid the trap of self-referential design where you design for yourself!
  3. Creating ideas for what the product should do comes from a deep understanding of actual users, and happens only after you have a good understanding of actual users.
  4. To understand actual users and their needs, you need to observe them, talk to them, ask them questions, and then synthesize all that information into personas.
  5. Persona-based scenarios help you bridge the gap between research and design (envisioning what the product should be able to do).
  6. The idea for the product emerges from the combination of user research and your own creativity. Your own creativity must remain grounded in the user research. Personas help you stay grounded.
  7. How the product should work, and the programming behind it are not even issues at this time. At this time, we assume that the computer can work magic.

The idea of designing products first and programming later was revolutionary about 10 years ago. It was introduced in Alan Cooper’s book The Inmates Are Running the Asylum. These days, it is pretty much taken for granted.

I highly recommend looking at this book a bit closer. Here is an excerpt from the publisher’s summary:

Why are VCRs impossible to program? Why do car alarms make us all crazy at all the wrong times? Why do our computers reprimand us when they screw up? All of these computerized devices are wildly sophisticated and powerful, and they have proliferated our desks, our cars, our homes and our offices. So why are they still so dauntingly complicated to use?

The highly renowned Alan Cooper, “The Father of Visual Basic,” tackles this issue head-on with his new book, The Inmates are Running the Asylum, from Sams Publishing. Cooper believes that powerful and pleasurable software-based products can be created by the simple expedient of designing computer-based products first and then building them. Designing interactive software-based products is a specialty that is as demanding as the construction of these same products, Cooper says. Ironically, building computerized products isn’t difficult, they only seem so because our process for making them is out of date. To compound the problem, the costs of badly designed software are incalculable, robbing us of time, customer loyalty, competitive advantage and opportunity.

I would like to ask you:

Is this UCD (and GDD) process what you thought it would be? Does it differ from your experiences and expectations? How so, or why not?

Class notes: Personas

The main questions we worked with this week were:

  • what are personas?
  • what is their role in the UCD/GDD process?
  • why are they useful?
  • how do you go about creating them?

Also, I hope the Cadillac Cue presentation helped you integrate your understanding of steps in the design process.

Please use your Class Reflection blog to synthesize this knowledge of personas and the design knowledge so far, and to point out any questions you have right now about either of these.

Class notes: Design process – Sept 4, 2013

There were two big parts to today’s class: history and readings about the design process.

In the history part, we discussed main moments in the history of the GUI, including:

We then talked about the 4 readings that showed different types of HCI design, and a multitude of activities that people engaged in HCI design undertake. We outlined those activities and the major new concepts you encountered in the readings. We established that research is sprinkled throughout the research process just like salt in food.

I pointed out the difference between goal-directed and user-centered design. I recommended you follow Mr. Alan Cooper on Twitter.

I left you with some questions that you can use as prompts for your class reflection blog post:

  1. What is the design process? What activities do you actually do when you engage in say, user-centered design?
  2. Why so many types of design? What are similarities/differences among them?
  3. What type(s) of design appeal to you most?

Please blog about what you took away from class, and let me know in the comments below:

  1. if these class notes are useful
  2. what worked/didn’t work for you this class, what questions you have, etc.

Apple doesn’t do user-centered design

I heard that in the first or second class and have been meaning to write about it but I forgot.

Well then, why are they hiring Experience Designers? Take a look at these two positions open at Apple right now:

Note that you will learn some of the required skills in CGT 512 😉

Let me know if you apply.

Design process: Coordinating across multiple devices

The user-centered, goal-directed design process as we discuss it in our class seems relatively simple and straightforward (I hope). But, what happens when you have a product that needs to work on several platforms, like most sites and apps need to, today? What does the design process look like for a product that needs to work on a desktop, tablet, and smart phone? And the latter two, come in different sizes and flavors?

This post from UX booth attempts to answer this question by providing a framework for designing for multiple devices.

What about this post do you find usefu/not useful? How would you approach the challenge of designing for multiple platforms?