why the hate-on User-centered Design? (was practice vs. discipline & roles vs. people

6 Oct 2008 - 6:23am
5 years ago
31 replies
1316 reads
Joshua Porter
2007

I don't know if you're including me in your comment, Christina, but
I did write a piece on activity-centered design recently that was
part of a similar conversation, so I'll try to answer from my
perspective.

http://bokardo.com/archives/activity-centered-design/

For me, it's not a hate of UCD, but more of a question about the
best frame in which to approach design. I started thinking about this
back when I wondered about IA being the right frame...and I'm still
thinking about it.

My question comes right out of Lakoff's classic framing theory...the
way you talk about something "Pro-Life" or "Pro-Choice" changes
the way that you actually think about it. (and, in the case of
design, practice it).

I guess the primary insight into my questioning was the observation
that we do a lot of research on users, and tend to think we're
serving a rather homogenous population, but in many cases our users
are incredibly varied. Sometimes the only thing our users have in
common is the activity they're doing...that's why both I and a
lawyer can use Skitch (or Jing) equally effectively...even though
we're nothing alike in almost every part of life, we happen to both
perform the activity of grabbing screenshots rather similarly. The
activity *is* our similarity...and not to mention that sharing
activities is one of the primary ways that people meet and become
friends with others...though they may be very different in other
aspects of their lives.

I didn't want to step on toes with my piece, but that may be the
result of asking the question. I have a hunch that focusing on
activity as the primary subject (or usage) might actually begin to
draw distinctions in practice. For example, personas are a UCD
artifact...do they exist in ACD practice? (I don't know)

But let me be clear: right now this is only a theory and it's not
made up of hate, just curiosity. :)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885

Comments

6 Oct 2008 - 9:12am
Dave Malouf
2005

Christina, I think this falls under the "bigger table" syndrome that
almost all UX practitioners are facing. How do I sit at the big table
if everyone thinks all I'm concerned about is the "user"? I think
this is the not-high-road path.

The higher-road path is actually the desire to meet all stakeholder
needs and the growing concentration of enterprise work where the
largest considered stakeholders are not end-users at all, but channel
managers, and IT managers who will never use the things we create.

It is also about meeting business needs which for right or wrong are
often in conflict with user needs. That conflict is NOT a bad thing,
but it is still a need. I think security issues for example is never
really a user need, except for perception of privacy, and so is
seldom designed for them, but rather is a requirement that comes from
other stakeholder sources. There are MANY other examples.

For me "stakeholder-centered design" has been come up a lot for me
in my work and there are no analytical processes that truly handle
this. There is a balancing act that needs to be reached and it is our
goal as the designers to not just be the advocate for the end-user,
but be the advocate for the most successful design for all
stakeholders.

BTW, as an aside, I have put forth here that the difference between
ACD and UCD is that ACD is really a type of UCD. It is about the
sphere of the touch-points that the user engages in. It is a type,
and not an alternative. so folks proposing ACD are not against UCD at
all.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885

6 Oct 2008 - 9:26am
Cwodtke
2004

agreed, and I liked your piece because it asked "what is useful?" UCD should
be composed with various methods and frames which are applied when
appropriate, which I was trying to say but I was tired. :)

I always thought the heart of UCD was "hey, let's think about the guy using
it rather than the code under it or the designers on top of it."

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 4:23 AM, Joshua Porter <porter at bokardo.com> wrote:

> I don't know if you're including me in your comment, Christina, but
> I did write a piece on activity-centered design recently that was
> part of a similar conversation, so I'll try to answer from my
> perspective.
>
> http://bokardo.com/archives/activity-centered-design/
>
> For me, it's not a hate of UCD, but more of a question about the
> best frame in which to approach design. I started thinking about this
> back when I wondered about IA being the right frame...and I'm still
> thinking about it.
>
> My question comes right out of Lakoff's classic framing theory...the
> way you talk about something "Pro-Life" or "Pro-Choice" changes
> the way that you actually think about it. (and, in the case of
> design, practice it).
>
> I guess the primary insight into my questioning was the observation
> that we do a lot of research on users, and tend to think we're
> serving a rather homogenous population, but in many cases our users
> are incredibly varied. Sometimes the only thing our users have in
> common is the activity they're doing...that's why both I and a
> lawyer can use Skitch (or Jing) equally effectively...even though
> we're nothing alike in almost every part of life, we happen to both
> perform the activity of grabbing screenshots rather similarly. The
> activity *is* our similarity...and not to mention that sharing
> activities is one of the primary ways that people meet and become
> friends with others...though they may be very different in other
> aspects of their lives.
>
> I didn't want to step on toes with my piece, but that may be the
> result of asking the question. I have a hunch that focusing on
> activity as the primary subject (or usage) might actually begin to
> draw distinctions in practice. For example, personas are a UCD
> artifact...do they exist in ACD practice? (I don't know)
>
> But let me be clear: right now this is only a theory and it's not
> made up of hate, just curiosity. :)
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
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>

6 Oct 2008 - 11:16am
Kurt Krumme
2008

I don't know that there's a hate-on in progress, but I do think that
there is a spirited debate, and a much-needed one.

My problem is with the term User Centered Design itself. I agree
that it's become over generalized. But every time I hear it, I ask
myself, "As opposed to what"?

In my work, I define design as the practice of defining goals and
problems and then working to solve them. (note: I'm only speaking
practically, I'm not trying to define design in its entirety for
everyone) If you're building a web site, how could you do anything
other than put the user and their interaction with the site first and
foremost in every decision? Like many things in our industry, I
think that people tend to introduce jargon in an attempt to
legitimize the field. If it sounds fancy, it must be good!

In my opinion it's just design, plain and simple.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885

6 Oct 2008 - 12:08pm
Mark Schraad
2006

When conditions get hard... such as a bad economy... your burn rate is
too fast, or someone decides the have some enlightened vision,
shortcuts begin to happen. That shortcut is usually research and or
testing. The most important research in a product development process
is concerned with usage and revenue (users and buyers).

Sustainable usage and sustainable revenue will come only through users
and customers. Where these are the same, life is usually pretty
simple. When they are different things often get ugly. Shortcuts will
usually compromise either or both usage and revenue.

as for ACD... I Dave is correct, ACD is a subset of UCD. I will never
get how you can really understand tasks, activities and goals with out
looking at the users that have them.

Mark

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 12:16 PM, Kurt Krumme <krumme at gmail.com> wrote:
> I don't know that there's a hate-on in progress, but I do think that
> there is a spirited debate, and a much-needed one.
>
> My problem is with the term User Centered Design itself. I agree
> that it's become over generalized. But every time I hear it, I ask
> myself, "As opposed to what"?
>
> In my work, I define design as the practice of defining goals and
> problems and then working to solve them. (note: I'm only speaking
> practically, I'm not trying to define design in its entirety for
> everyone) If you're building a web site, how could you do anything
> other than put the user and their interaction with the site first and
> foremost in every decision? Like many things in our industry, I
> think that people tend to introduce jargon in an attempt to
> legitimize the field. If it sounds fancy, it must be good!
>
> In my opinion it's just design, plain and simple.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
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>

6 Oct 2008 - 12:22pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Oct 6, 2008, at 9:16 AM, Kurt Krumme wrote:

> My problem is with the term User Centered Design itself. I agree
> that it's become over generalized. But every time I hear it, I ask
> myself, "As opposed to what"?
>
> In my work, I define design as the practice of defining goals and
> problems and then working to solve them. (note: I'm only speaking
> practically, I'm not trying to define design in its entirety for
> everyone) If you're building a web site, how could you do anything
> other than put the user and their interaction with the site first and
> foremost in every decision? Like many things in our industry, I
> think that people tend to introduce jargon in an attempt to
> legitimize the field. If it sounds fancy, it must be good!
>
> In my opinion it's just design, plain and simple.

Bingo.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

6 Oct 2008 - 12:40pm
Mark Young
2008

Semantics aside, I hope that the meat of a user-centered design
approach is preserved. Time and resource pressures seem to create a
constant potential for product development processes to backslide
into designer-centered-design, software-developer-centered-design,
etc.

Regarding Activity-centered design - its very useful but not
completely sufficient. An apt analogy: Consider how behavioral
psychology was supplanted by cognitive psychology.

-Mark

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885

6 Oct 2008 - 12:49pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 6, 2008, at 1:22 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

>> In my opinion it's just design, plain and simple.
>
> Bingo.

Damn. I was one square away.

Jared

6 Oct 2008 - 1:26pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I agree with most all of this Andrei. The problem is that UCD is not
how many many products are developed. And that is the reason the term
still has value.

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 1:22 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk
<aherasimchuk at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
> On Oct 6, 2008, at 9:16 AM, Kurt Krumme wrote:
>
>> My problem is with the term User Centered Design itself. I agree
>> that it's become over generalized. But every time I hear it, I ask
>> myself, "As opposed to what"?
>>
>> In my work, I define design as the practice of defining goals and
>> problems and then working to solve them. (note: I'm only speaking
>> practically, I'm not trying to define design in its entirety for
>> everyone) If you're building a web site, how could you do anything
>> other than put the user and their interaction with the site first and
>> foremost in every decision? Like many things in our industry, I
>> think that people tend to introduce jargon in an attempt to
>> legitimize the field. If it sounds fancy, it must be good!
>>
>> In my opinion it's just design, plain and simple.
>
> Bingo.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Principal, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

6 Oct 2008 - 1:45pm
SemanticWill
2007

Somebody recently asked what are other approaches that are generally used
besides UCD, to which I reply:
1. Stakeholder-centered Design
- VP says he likes the feature and the users will like what he likes
because he plans on being a user
- Marketing says they need 48 questions in the registration process b/c
they need the information

2. Technology-centered Design (most common - and the one Norman's company is
embracing by taking design out and doing just agile)
- what is this?

- Technology driven
- Internal architecture focus
- Developers are isolated from the user
- No user validation (until release)
- Focus on technical benchmarking
- Continuous technical enhancements

3. Competitor-centered Design
- they do it, therefore we should do it, never mind asking whether the user
base actually thinks the competitor's product sux

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 2:26 PM, mark schraad <mschraad at gmail.com> wrote:

> I agree with most all of this Andrei. The problem is that UCD is not
> how many many products are developed. And that is the reason the term
> still has value.
>
> On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 1:22 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk
> <aherasimchuk at involutionstudios.com> wrote:
> > On Oct 6, 2008, at 9:16 AM, Kurt Krumme wrote:
> >
> >> My problem is with the term User Centered Design itself. I agree
> >> that it's become over generalized. But every time I hear it, I ask
> >> myself, "As opposed to what"?
> >>
> >> In my work, I define design as the practice of defining goals and
> >> problems and then working to solve them. (note: I'm only speaking
> >> practically, I'm not trying to define design in its entirety for
> >> everyone) If you're building a web site, how could you do anything
> >> other than put the user and their interaction with the site first and
> >> foremost in every decision? Like many things in our industry, I
> >> think that people tend to introduce jargon in an attempt to
> >> legitimize the field. If it sounds fancy, it must be good!
> >>
> >> In my opinion it's just design, plain and simple.
> >
> > Bingo.
> >
> > --
> > Andrei Herasimchuk
> >
> > Principal, Involution Studios
> > innovating the digital world
> >
> > e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> > c. +1 408 306 6422
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > 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
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.128 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 Oct 2008 - 1:59pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> as for ACD... I Dave is correct, ACD is a subset of UCD. I will never
> get how you can really understand tasks, activities and goals with out
> looking at the users that have them.
>

One more time. This time with feeling.

ACD does not—I repeat, not—mean ignoring users. It means focusing on their
activities instead of their goals. It means ignoring what Jenny wants to be
when she gets out of college and focusing instead on how to create an app
that helps her (and everyone else) complete the activities she needs to
complete to get out of college.

Many times, a designer can become well-versed in an activity without doing
outside research. Many other times, the designer cannot do this. In both
situations, the focus is on the activity, not the user alone.

And with that, time for me to get back to work!

-r-

6 Oct 2008 - 2:05pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Somebody recently asked what are other approaches that are generally used
> besides UCD, to which I reply:

> 1. Stakeholder-centered Design
>

> 2. Technology-centered Design

> 3. Competitor-centered Design

Well, of course UCD sounds great when compared to these particular
alternatives. But that doesn't automatically mean it's infallible, and that
doesn't mean it's the only solution out there.

-r-

6 Oct 2008 - 2:15pm
bminihan
2007

Will...not to nitpick, but if you are not doing all three of your
alternatives IN ADDITION to UCD, you're very very very lucky to get
a paycheck, or you work in a design firm, where such influences are
possibly less prominent (I'm guessing, as I've been a corporate guy
most of my career).

Will said:
Somebody recently asked what are other approaches that are generally
used besides UCD, to which I reply:

1. Stakeholder-centered Design
2. Technology-centered Design
3. Competitor-centered Design

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885

6 Oct 2008 - 2:18pm
SemanticWill
2007

I should be clear - those approaches to the EXCLUSION of all other things,
including users/usage/activity.

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 3:15 PM, Bryan Minihan <bjminihan at nc.rr.com> wrote:

> Will...not to nitpick, but if you are not doing all three of your
> alternatives IN ADDITION to UCD, you're very very very lucky to get
> a paycheck, or you work in a design firm, where such influences are
> possibly less prominent (I'm guessing, as I've been a corporate guy
> most of my career).
>
> Will said:
> Somebody recently asked what are other approaches that are generally
> used besides UCD, to which I reply:
>
> 1. Stakeholder-centered Design
> 2. Technology-centered Design
> 3. Competitor-centered Design
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.128 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 Oct 2008 - 2:33pm
jgould
2008

Referring to Robert's statement: "ACD does not%u2014I repeat, not%u2014mean ignoring users. It means focusing on their activities instead of their goals."

IMHO, if UCD or ACD do NOT focus on *both* goals *and* activities, it fails as a process.

It's really a chicken-and-egg argument, depending on the solution (i.e. whether the user-base is defined or not). It could be the activities that inform the user goals, or the user goals that influence the activities, but if the end-result only has one and not the other, I cannot imagine it satisfying all three of the (client) stakeholders, Dev team and end-user.

6 Oct 2008 - 2:37pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 6, 2008, at 2:59 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:

> ACD does not—I repeat, not—mean ignoring users. It means focusing on
> their
> activities instead of their goals. It means ignoring what Jenny
> wants to be
> when she gets out of college and focusing instead on how to create
> an app
> that helps her (and everyone else) complete the activities she needs
> to
> complete to get out of college.

Which works great until the goals change the activities.

That's where I've always been confused by the ACD stuff. (Such as
Jenny's desire to prop up her MCAT scores so she can get accepted to
Harvard Med, which may change the way she chooses courses and
professors from the college's class scheduling system.)

Nobody is suggesting that when you're using the non-ACD method
(whatever we wanna call that), that you take irrelevant facts into
account in the design process.

I've never understood how the design process is actually different
when you're doing the ACD thing.

Since clearing up my confusion is just a goal of mine, feel free to
ignore it. That way we can all focus on our activities. :)

Jared

6 Oct 2008 - 2:38pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 6, 2008, at 2:45 PM, Will Evans wrote:

> Somebody recently asked what are other approaches that are generally
> used
> besides UCD, to which I reply:
> 1. Stakeholder-centered Design
> - VP says he likes the feature and the users will like what he likes
> because he plans on being a user
> - Marketing says they need 48 questions in the registration process
> b/c
> they need the information
>
> 2. Technology-centered Design (most common - and the one Norman's
> company is
> embracing by taking design out and doing just agile)
> - what is this?
>
> - Technology driven
> - Internal architecture focus
> - Developers are isolated from the user
> - No user validation (until release)
> - Focus on technical benchmarking
> - Continuous technical enhancements
>
> 3. Competitor-centered Design
> - they do it, therefore we should do it, never mind asking whether
> the user
> base actually thinks the competitor's product sux

Again, Is UCD a methodological framework (or whatever you call it)?
Are these things one of those too?

Or is UCD just a state-of-mind?

Am I just supposed to feel particularly UCDish today?

Jared

6 Oct 2008 - 2:46pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Oct 6, 2008, at 12:38 PM, Jared Spool wrote:

>
> Again, Is UCD a methodological framework (or whatever you call it)?
> Are these things one of those too?
>
> Or is UCD just a state-of-mind?
>

To me, UCD is an approach to design that suggests certain methods.
Personas, for instance, with their frequent emphasis on user goals,
seems to be a technique suggested by an UCD approach. Something like
Indi Young's Mental Models (aka alignment diagrams) would be a
technique that Activity-Centered Design approach might engender.

We should not forget the two other major approaches as well: systems
design, and "genius design." Those are valid approaches to our work as
well.

Dan

Dan Saffer
Principal, Kicker Studio
http://www.kickerstudio.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

6 Oct 2008 - 2:55pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 6, 2008, at 3:46 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> To me, UCD is an approach to design that suggests certain methods.
> Personas, for instance, with their frequent emphasis on user goals,
> seems to be a technique suggested by an UCD approach. Something like
> Indi Young's Mental Models (aka alignment diagrams) would be a
> technique that Activity-Centered Design approach might engender.
>
> We should not forget the two other major approaches as well: systems
> design, and "genius design." Those are valid approaches to our work
> as well.

Which brings me back to my original assertion:

> if you ask 10 UX professionals what their approach to UCD is,
> you'll get (a minimum of) 10 answers.

:)

Jared

6 Oct 2008 - 2:56pm
SemanticWill
2007

Google-Centered Design: "Make it work/feel/act/look like Google"

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 3:46 PM, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:

>
> On Oct 6, 2008, at 12:38 PM, Jared Spool wrote:
>
>
>> Again, Is UCD a methodological framework (or whatever you call it)? Are
>> these things one of those too?
>>
>> Or is UCD just a state-of-mind?
>>
>>
> To me, UCD is an approach to design that suggests certain methods.
> Personas, for instance, with their frequent emphasis on user goals, seems to
> be a technique suggested by an UCD approach. Something like Indi Young's
> Mental Models (aka alignment diagrams) would be a technique that
> Activity-Centered Design approach might engender.
>
> We should not forget the two other major approaches as well: systems
> design, and "genius design." Those are valid approaches to our work as well.
>
> Dan
>
>
>
>
> Dan Saffer
> Principal, Kicker Studio
> http://www.kickerstudio.com
> http://www.odannyboy.com
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> 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
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.128 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 Oct 2008 - 3:00pm
Kurt Krumme
2008

Maybe I am being narrow-minded, but I just don't see these other
distinctions as being valid approaches. Stakeholder-centered,
tech-centered, etc. I really feel this is over-complicating things.

If you agree with what I said earlier about design defining what
you're trying to do and then dealing with the challenges of doing
it, then all of these things, including and especially the USER must
be factored-in. Any design that focuses on one factor to the
exclusion of the others is destined to fail IMO.

However that doesn't mean that you can't prioritize these factors.
In terms of designing a web site or app that people will use, I guess
I just don't see how anything can be prioritized higher than the
user. Again, not to the exclusion of all else. Sometimes something
may be best for the user, but just not be feasible because of costs
or technological limitations. However sacrifices like that need to
be made very carefully and thoughtfully.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885

6 Oct 2008 - 3:05pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Yep, the selection of activities to be supported by design is defined by the
person's goals.

Persona definition is the process of choosing the activities most pertinent
to the goals from the pool of possible activities. This was the take home
message from recent Cooper practicum for me.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 2:37 PM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

>
> On Oct 6, 2008, at 2:59 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:
>
> ACD does not—I repeat, not—mean ignoring users. It means focusing on their
>> activities instead of their goals. It means ignoring what Jenny wants to
>> be
>> when she gets out of college and focusing instead on how to create an app
>> that helps her (and everyone else) complete the activities she needs to
>> complete to get out of college.
>>
>
> Which works great until the goals change the activities.
>
> That's where I've always been confused by the ACD stuff. (Such as Jenny's
> desire to prop up her MCAT scores so she can get accepted to Harvard Med,
> which may change the way she chooses courses and professors from the
> college's class scheduling system.)
>
> Nobody is suggesting that when you're using the non-ACD method (whatever we
> wanna call that), that you take irrelevant facts into account in the design
> process.
>
> I've never understood how the design process is actually different when
> you're doing the ACD thing.
>
> Since clearing up my confusion is just a goal of mine, feel free to ignore
> it. That way we can all focus on our activities. :)
>
> Jared
>

6 Oct 2008 - 11:28am
Ben Bashford
2008

Can someone provide links to any articles that illustrate this "hate-on"?

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:16 PM, Kurt Krumme <krumme at gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't know that there's a hate-on in progress, but I do think that
> there is a spirited debate, and a much-needed one.
>
> My problem is with the term User Centered Design itself. I agree
> that it's become over generalized. But every time I hear it, I ask
> myself, "As opposed to what"?
>
> In my work, I define design as the practice of defining goals and
> problems and then working to solve them. (note: I'm only speaking
> practically, I'm not trying to define design in its entirety for
> everyone) If you're building a web site, how could you do anything
> other than put the user and their interaction with the site first and
> foremost in every decision? Like many things in our industry, I
> think that people tend to introduce jargon in an attempt to
> legitimize the field. If it sounds fancy, it must be good!
>
> In my opinion it's just design, plain and simple.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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>

6 Oct 2008 - 3:03pm
Kontra
2007

> We should not forget the two other major approaches as well: systems
> design, and "genius design." Those are valid approaches to our work as well.
>

In 2008, do people still say to themselves: hmm, today I'd like to use UCD.
Scratch that, ACD. Perhaps systems design. Oh no it's Friday, it's gotta be
genius design day. But wait, I'm working at Google, forget design.

Is there any time left for...design?

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

6 Oct 2008 - 4:11pm
Cwodtke
2004

this may be the most notable
http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/human-centered.html

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 9:28 AM, Ben Bashford <bashford at gmail.com> wrote:

> Can someone provide links to any articles that illustrate this "hate-on"?
>
> On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 5:16 PM, Kurt Krumme <krumme at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I don't know that there's a hate-on in progress, but I do think that
> > there is a spirited debate, and a much-needed one.
> >
> > My problem is with the term User Centered Design itself. I agree
> > that it's become over generalized. But every time I hear it, I ask
> > myself, "As opposed to what"?
> >
> > In my work, I define design as the practice of defining goals and
> > problems and then working to solve them. (note: I'm only speaking
> > practically, I'm not trying to define design in its entirety for
> > everyone) If you're building a web site, how could you do anything
> > other than put the user and their interaction with the site first and
> > foremost in every decision? Like many things in our industry, I
> > think that people tend to introduce jargon in an attempt to
> > legitimize the field. If it sounds fancy, it must be good!
> >
> > In my opinion it's just design, plain and simple.
> >
> >
> > . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> > Posted from the new ixda.org
> > http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > 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
>

6 Oct 2008 - 4:49pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Oct 6, 2008, at 2:11 PM, Christina Wodtke wrote:

> this may be the most notable
> http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/human-centered.html

The trick to all this -- imho -- is understanding what a good designer
actually does. Regardless if that designer is designing cars, clothes,
products or systems.

Ultimately, good design is not about UCD, ACD, genius design,
waterfall, agile or whatever label you want to put it on. Those are
all marketing terms in the end, some trying to describe a process that
exists, while others are trying to define a process when one does not
exist because the people on the job are lacking in some respect. In
the latter case, there's usually an intention of creating some
baseline that often can't be met because what's lacking is simply good
designers on the job.

Good designers consistently do two things:

1) Define and understand the problem in relevant terms
2) Solve the problem elegantly

Once you get that, the rest is just meddling for little value in return.

I've disliked the term UCD for so long because to even consider the
term, one has to reconsider what it is that I do as a designer at a
tactical level because the premise is that I don't know what it is
that I do. At best, the terms UCD and ACD are redundant to what is
already happening or should be happening. At worst, those labels
become misapplied marketing speak that does nothing but muddy the
waters.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

6 Oct 2008 - 5:46pm
Peter Merholz
2004

> I've disliked the term UCD for so long because to even consider the
> term, one has to reconsider what it is that I do as a designer at a
> tactical level because the premise is that I don't know what it is
> that I do.

While you're wailing and gnashing your teeth over wounded pride, it's
worth nothing that the term and philosophy of UCD had to be coined
because at some point "design", as it was widely understood, meant
styling, aesthetics, and personal expression of the designer's sense
of cool and nothing else. We've all seen too many "designed" things
that clearly did not involve an understood of use, context, behavior,
and motivation.

Yes, good designers would do such things, and have for decades (as
witnessed by Henry Dreyfuss' book, DESIGNING FOR PEOPLE, which, as far
as I can tell, was the first book on UCD). But, the majority of
designers *did not*, and clearly many felt it was necessary to
distinguish their efforts from this majority.

Gah. Why am I contributing to this? Is this really the crucial topic
of our field?

--peter

6 Oct 2008 - 6:19pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Oct 6, 2008, at 3:46 PM, Peter Merholz wrote:

> While you're wailing and gnashing your teeth over wounded pride...

If you'd like to get into a conversation over who can call the other
snippy names or pontificate on motives in flowery language in attempt
to belittle the other, I'll gladly take you up on that offer outside
the confines of this list.

> Yes, good designers would do such things, and have for decades (as
> witnessed by Henry Dreyfuss' book, DESIGNING FOR PEOPLE, which, as
> far as I can tell, was the first book on UCD). But, the majority of
> designers *did not*, and clearly many felt it was necessary to
> distinguish their efforts from this majority.

It's been like this for decades in the design profession, and well
before Dreyfuss even wrote his book. And note that in Designing for
People, Dreyfuss does a number of things well beyond what people
consider UCD practice... like... building real, full scale working
prototypes or doing competitive market research or finding ideas in
completely unrelated solutions to other problems that have nothing to
do with asking customers anything about anything.

That's the whole point. You can't grab one piece of the puzzle and
ignore the others. Which is what people in this industry do for God
knows what reason.

You want to point to Dreyfuss as the model for UCD? Great! I'm all for
it. Maybe we'll finally get people in this industry to stop
complaining when asked to learn how to draw, using products like
Photoshop and Illustrator in depth, code web standards markup, script
behaviors and build prototypes of their products for a change. Sign me
up.

> Gah. Why am I contributing to this? Is this really the crucial topic
> of our field?

Obviously, it appears you have your own ego invested in it as well.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

6 Oct 2008 - 8:28pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 6, 2008, at 7:19 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Oct 6, 2008, at 3:46 PM, Peter Merholz wrote:
>
>> While you're wailing and gnashing your teeth over wounded pride...
>
> If you'd like to get into a conversation over who can call the other
> snippy names or pontificate on motives in flowery language in
> attempt to belittle the other, I'll gladly take you up on that offer
> outside the confines of this list.

GIRL FIGHT! GIRL FIGHT! (It had to be said. With apologies to all the
real girls out there.)

>> Yes, good designers would do such things, and have for decades (as
>> witnessed by Henry Dreyfuss' book, DESIGNING FOR PEOPLE, which, as
>> far as I can tell, was the first book on UCD). But, the majority of
>> designers *did not*, and clearly many felt it was necessary to
>> distinguish their efforts from this majority.
>
> It's been like this for decades in the design profession, and well
> before Dreyfuss even wrote his book. And note that in Designing for
> People, Dreyfuss does a number of things well beyond what people
> consider UCD practice... like... building real, full scale working
> prototypes or doing competitive market research or finding ideas in
> completely unrelated solutions to other problems that have nothing
> to do with asking customers anything about anything.

Andrei is correct. UCD had nothing to do with Dreyfuss. I know, 'cause
I was there.

For those who care, UCD was born on the engineering side. As I
explained in my IA Summit Keynote (and revisiting in my upcoming UI13
Keynote -- register today at http://uiconf.com), UCD was a knee jerk
reaction to the times -- those times being the late 1970s and early
1980s.

We're talking the days before real personal computers (yes, there were
TRS-80s and Apple IIs, but they weren't being used in a business
context yet). In those days, computers had a history of being designed
for engineers and operators who would receive significant training for
simple functionality. The operators of the computers didn't care about
the data or, for that fact, the actual programs. They only cared about
running the job, distributing the results, then running the next job.
The computer itself didn't have to be easy to use or "user
friendly" (the term of the day at that time), because the users were
very well trained.

In the advent of "personal computing", (which happened with mini-
computer time share systems and solo-purpose devices, such as word
processing units -- remember the Wang 2200, the DEC WPS08, and the IBM
Displaywriter?), the focus shifted from trained operators that were
uninterested in the data, only in the operation, to untrained 'users'
that were very interested in the data and uninterested in the
operation. This is where the movement for designing for users, which
subsequently became user-centered design.

The key players here were John Gould & Jack Carroll at IBM, Ben
Schneiderman at UMaryland, Marilyn Tremaine (I'm don't remember where
she was at the time), John Whiteside & Dennis Wixon at DEC, Stu Card
at Xerox, Ginny Redish & Joe Dumas at AIR, and a handful of others who
I apologize for not remembering off hand. (I worked with the DEC team
at the time. I'm sure Chauncey will produce a long list of people I've
forgotten.) This was all pre-CHI, which had its first meeting in 1982
in Gaithersburg, where 970 people showed up, so it was well off the
ground by then. (I didn't go to that, but I was at the second one in
Boston the following year.)

The UCD movement was important because it gave us a way to talk with
the stakeholders and engineering managers (development was an
engineering discipline at the time) about how user interfaces needed
to actually interface with users.

While many of us were aware of other design disciplines, they seemed
way "out there". Aesthetics and form were far away from what we were
trying to do in the early days. In those days, it was all about pure
usability -- diagnosing frustration points, producing cognitive models
that explained them, and coming up with a thinking that would get past
that.

It wasn't until the late '80s and early '90s that people started
thinking in terms of formative evaluation techniques as something that
could be integrated into the development process. For example, it
wasn't until '89 that we started talking about paper prototyping
(based on work done by Laurie Vertelney at Apple) and its uses in a
development process.

It wasn't until '87 that we saw an integration of visual design with
UCD practice, from work presented at the CHI+GI conference in Toronto.
(Allison Druin's Noobie came to mind. A life size doll with digital
sensors, speech systems, and a video screen.)

So, UCD has predated most of the things we associate with UCD today.
And it had nothing to do with design as we think of it today.

And that ends today's history lesson. I hope you took notes because
this will all be on the final.

> You want to point to Dreyfuss as the model for UCD? Great! I'm all
> for it. Maybe we'll finally get people in this industry to stop
> complaining when asked to learn how to draw, using products like
> Photoshop and Illustrator in depth, code web standards markup,
> script behaviors and build prototypes of their products for a
> change. Sign me up.

Seems like an excellent motivation for revisionist history. I'm all
for it! Forget everything I said above. It was all Dreyfuss! :)

Jared

7 Oct 2008 - 1:38am
Jonas Löwgren
2003

Jared provides a fine summary of the history of UCD. I believe the
most important point to be that UCD is fundamentally rooted in
usability, utility, goals and tasks -- most often work-related and
externally motivated.
Whether UCD concepts and the "UCD community" are capable of evolving
with the times, towards designing for discretionary and hedonistic
use of digital products and services in consumer cultures, is a point
for debate. My personal opinion is that seems to be struggling, as
witnessed for instance by the relatively small difference between CHI
conferences from the early 90s and CHI conferences today.
Institutions, including academic communities, have a way of
permanenting themselves and their foundations (which is, of course,
suitable in many ways but makes them less agile).

Jared closes his post, however, with a comment on Andrei's remark on
Dreyfuss which I would like to respond to.

>> You want to point to Dreyfuss as the model for UCD? Great! I'm all
>> for it. Maybe we'll finally get people in this industry to stop
>> complaining when asked to learn how to draw, using products like
>> Photoshop and Illustrator in depth, code web standards markup,
>> script behaviors and build prototypes of their products for a
>> change. Sign me up.
>>
>
> Seems like an excellent motivation for revisionist history. I'm all
> for it! Forget everything I said above. It was all Dreyfuss! :)

It may be important to point out that the UCD field, and specifically
the CHI academic UCD community that Jared surveys, didn't pay any
systematic attention to the design field before the mid or late 90s.
There were isolated exceptions, of course, but on the whole it is
fair to say that UCD went through its formative stages largely
without input from industrial design, graphic design or architecture.

What Andrei does, if I read him correctly, is to identify a few of
the things that are considered fundamental in design practice and
scholarship within the design field -- craft skills to do with
sketching, shaping and assessing -- and translate them to our tools
and materials.

I support Andrei all the way in this move. And he also makes a valid
point about what our field could learn from design, which UCD
historically hasn't done. That is not the same as engaging in
"revisionist history", in my opinion.

Nobody is trying to take anything away from the work of the UCD
pioneers in the 70s and 80s, nor from what that work meant to the IT
business at large and to the users.

Jonas Löwgren

7 Oct 2008 - 4:43am
Craig Pickering
2007

>>In the latter case, there's usually an intention of creating some baseline that often can't be met because what's lacking is simply good designers on the job.

Good designers consistently do two things:

1) Define and understand the problem in relevant terms

2) Solve the problem elegantly

Which reminded of this cartoon to illustrate:
http://stuffthathappens.com/blog/2008/03/05/simplicity/

7 Oct 2008 - 7:09pm
james horgan
2008

Couple of reasons for the hate-on:
Lack of consistency across various projects; one methodology for one
type of project will not work for another. This makes it difficult
for execs and project managers to accurately gauge the cost
effectiveness of a project, which would drive any money person nuts.
It is the number one area everyone can throw in their 2 cents so it
means different things to different people
It's often seen by execs as saving a failing project, of course when
it doesn't, its the first to blame.
The people who do UCD often cannot relate it to a monetary value for
the senior team, again another reason to dislike what is seen as a
'vague' profession based on feelings - in complete contrast to
business philosophy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33885

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