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Re: UCD Description for SWUIWiki "How To" section

From: Eric Miller <eric@squishymedia.com>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 15:54:28 -0700
To: Roberto García <rogargon@gmail.com>, <public-semweb-ui@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C284A034.1A488%eric@squishymedia.com>

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
Received on Thursday, 31 May 2007 23:42:22 GMT

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