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RE: UCD Description for SWUIWiki "How To" section

From: Laura L. Downey <ldowney@lternet.edu>
Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 14:23:17 -0600
To: "'Lisa Battle'" <lisa_battle@yahoo.com>, "'Eric Miller'" <eric@squishymedia.com>, 'Roberto García' <rogargon@gmail.com>, <public-semweb-ui@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000301c7a48a$c2ea5e10$a47c1881@LTERNET164>

I'm a practitioner and also what I call an applied researcher.  I've worked
in industry on commercial products and employed UCD, and I've done applied
research on various prototypes, ideas and research problems and used UCD
there too.  There is nothing constraining in UCD that keeps someone from
coming up with a great design idea.  I would argue that the great design
ideas come with an understanding of user's issues and what problem is trying
to be solved.  I think Lisa summed this up very nicely in her message below
where she described how users are involved.  

As an anecdotal story -- when I worked for a startup the two founders had
this idea about building some workflow software to help who they had
identified as their target customers .... but when they went out and started
talking to potential customers lo and behold they found out that what people
really needed was a content management system and that is what we built.

To me, the very fact that this is a "user interaction" research group means
that users absolutely must be involved in some form or fashion and at some
point whether an application or a research problem.  And if we try to do
things without users, that sort of negates the whole purpose.

Let's say as a designer you come up with what you think is a really cool
idea/widget without having talked to users first.  That happens all the
time.  But at some point the only real way to find out if your design/widget
is efficient, effective and satisfying to users is to have them use it and
do some evaluation.  And that evaluation consists of much more than just
saying what do you think or do you like it etc.  There are all kinds of
objective measures that can be taken to assess the design/widget.

UCD is a flexible framework that allows for creativity and discovery and
learning between designers and users while keeping the focus on the user.
I've had a few users come up with some great design ideas too.  I think
participatory design, collaboratories and cooperative usability testing are
all examples of a mutual learning experience and that is done within a UCD
framework.

Laura L. Downey
Senior Usability Engineer
LTER Network Office
Department of Biology, MSC03 2020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM  87131-0001
505.277.3157 office
505.610.9657 mobile
505.277-2541 fax
ldowney@lternet.edu
 
-----Original Message-----
From: public-semweb-ui-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-semweb-ui-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Lisa Battle
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2007 6:05 PM
To: Eric Miller; Roberto García; public-semweb-ui@w3.org
Subject: Re: UCD Description for SWUIWiki "How To" section


I'm also a practitioner, not a researcher, but I think
Roberto's description of UCD touches on a lot of the
key points and would provide a reasonable starting
point for the wiki. I don't think it's a good idea to
mention "MPIu+a" or any other individual instance of
UCD, though. Every consultant and researcher seems to
feel a need to come up with a new name for it, but the
essentials are the same.

I agree completely with Eric that design involves
leaps of insight, but in my experience those can occur
within a UCD process as well as outside it. UCD does
NOT ask  users to articulate design solutions. It asks
them to describe their problems, needs, wishes, and
real-life situations (ethnographic methods involving
observation of real-life situations are commonly used,
and very fruitful for inspiring design ideas that the
users themselves would not have thought of). UCD also
asks users to try out prototypes from the very
earliest stages of design, and takes their feedback
into account to make improvements, through an
iterative process. 

Lisa Battle


--- Eric Miller <eric@squishymedia.com> wrote:

> 
> Hi all,
> 
> Just a quick observation here.  I'm a practitioner,
> not a researcher, so I
> can't really speak to the lit, but I use UCD on a
> daily basis.  And speaking
> as a designer I've found that user involvement
> provides an invaluable
> starting point for the design process but shouldn't
> solely govern evaluation
> processes.  Users can be good at articulating their
> needs, but aren't as
> good at articulating specific solutions to their
> needs; often because their
> viewpoint is reflexively restricted to their
> personal contexts and past
> experiences.  Their involvement isn't as useful to
> the practicing designer
> when the users don't have experience with that
> specific class of application
> or task.  Like, say, the Semantic Web.
> 
> I saw that this issue was noted under "Methodology
> Issues" on the SWUIWiki,
> incidentally.  And the "Pathetic Fallacy of RDF"
> piece touches on this too.
> 
> So I'd suggest that processes like UCD (as formally
> articulated and
> implemented, and driven by actual people and/or
> personas) are well-suited
> for evolutionary refinement of existing classes of
> applications with a
> pre-existing critical mass of user awareness and
> understanding.  But to
> create effective user interfaces for new classes
> might require a less
> structured and more creative approach.  (My example
> here would be Apple's
> successful new product design process that is
> decidedly not UCD-driven in
> the traditional end-user sense; it's driven by Steve
> Jobs' benevolent
> dictatorship of design.)  Another interesting thread
> along these lines would
> be the "genius design" v. UCD discussion a few
> months back on IxDA.
> Additionally, there might be a case made for
> adapting SW technologies to fit
> a more coherent interaction metaphor, rather than
> struggling to bolt a UI
> onto a fully-baked technical implementation.
> 
> Again, this audience would certainly know more about
> the HCI lit than I
> would, but I'd simply offer this thought.  To
> paraphrase a great one-liner,
> "Writing about design is like dancing about
> architecture."  There's a
> subjective X factor in design that defies
> quantitative processes and
> analysis.  And I'm willing to speculate that
> breakthroughs in SWUI design
> would be most likely to spring from creative
> processes unencumbered by
> constraining mechanisms such as formal UCD processes
> and methodologies.
> There will be more failures; but there's the chance
> for something truly
> innovative and successful to emerge.
> 
> Eric
> 
> 
> On 5/31/07 1:26 PM, "Roberto García"
> <rogargon@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> > Dear all,
> 
> Before adding the following text to the "How To"
> section of
> > the
> SWUIWiki, I would appreciate your comments about the
> following
> description
> > of User Centred Design (UCD). Do you think it
> > is
> appropriate?
> 
> --
> 
> 
> 
> >  User-Centred Design
> 
> The methodology for developing
> > usable and accessible applications is
> called User-Centred Design (UCD). It is
> > based on an iterative
> development process based on a detailed study of the
> > users' needs, the
> tasks they carry on in order to meet them and the
> context in
> > which
> they are performed (Norman 1986). There are many UCD
> > development
> processes proposals, but all of them provide a mix
> of
> > software
> engineering plus usability and accessibility
> engineering tasks.
> > One
> particular proposal, which combines both disciplines
> in a neat way
> thus
> > facilitating its adoption, is the usability and
> accessibility
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 



       
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Received on Friday, 1 June 2007 20:24:41 GMT

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