We don't make consumer products, hence no need for a User Centered Design development process.

26 Aug 2009 - 10:47am
4 years ago
32 replies
705 reads
Sascha Brossmann
2008

On Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 08:59, Ali Naqvi<Ali at amroha.dk> wrote:
> Time and time again I am being told that a user centered design
> development process isn't needed in our company since we do not make
> consumer products.

This is an obvious strawman’s argument (one may call it even simply
bullshit). Apart from ‘users’ not being equivalent to ‘consumers’:
Your products are still used by *humans*. And even if they were just
used by machines, they will most probably make contact with humans
somewhere in the process chain. Whatever: complementing the
engineering with a design process holds a potential to make the
products more successful. Even more so if design is not understood as
something applied to just products/objects but to a whole process,
including e.g. service and other interfaces to your organisation’s
customers.

> A manager said last week: "We are a technology driven corporation
> and that is why we are so successful".

Which is actually a weak argument, with fallible hidden assumptions.
Good technology and good design are NOT mutually exclusive. Quite in
contrary: design is most often a catalyst for technology. And besides,
said manager most probably has no comparative figures to support this
statement as an argument against implementing more design in the
development process.

BTW: IMHO one should not get too much into measuring design success by
economical figures, though – controllers already hold far too much
power in many organisations, and executives with an accountant's
instead of an entrepreneur's mindset will give you a hard time if
something goes wrong on the market, even if it may not be design's
fault. (This does certainly not imply that design could not be
evaluated, mind you.)

With all this said: given your email I'd guess that you might need
much energy, patience, diplomacy(!), and a good strategy to overcome
the obvious reluctance against implementing design in your
organisation. (Hope I was reading your intentions correctly between
the lines - if so: good luck!)

Sascha
--
& : create

https://www.xing.com/profile/Sascha_Brossmann
http://www.linkedin.com/in/brsma
http://twitter.com/brsma

Comments

26 Aug 2009 - 12:55pm
Nasir Barday
2006

We all understand the problem here, right? I think instead of expounding on
it to each other, we could help Ali figure out how to change his manager's
thinking.

While it's nice for us to formally label what we do, "that thing that makes
stuff cool, elegant, and easy to use," interaction design," lots of shops
aren't even thinking about this part of the process as a different
discipline. It's all _making the product. As we know, in most places, the
pprocess still tends to be driven by engineers (even at Apple!). If the
product development process happens to include someone with smart insights
and methods to make the product more compelling, so be it. Eventually, Ali
could call his methods user-centered design (or whatever process they end up
adopting), but not until they've already been doing it for a while.

So to you, Ali, the way I would approach this is by actually doing design
work here and there to show your teams this "magic" that interaction
designers do, and demonstrate how it can help them build the right thing
from the start. This won't be pretty. When I started out, I introduced one
of my teams to personas . I failed miserably-- personas weren't the right
tool at the time. Everyone was already on the same page about core goals and
scenarios. What they really needed was "a map to organize the product's
functionality." I didn't tell them we were doing an Information Architecture
until after they told me it was helpful :-).

Any other tips for Ali on bringing design to an "engineering-driven" shop?
It's easy to forget that for some of us, this alone is half of our jobs.

- Nasir

26 Aug 2009 - 11:45pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Aug 26, 2009, at 12:55 PM, Nasir Barday wrote:

> We all understand the problem here, right? I think instead of
> expounding on
> it to each other, we could help Ali figure out how to change his
> manager's
> thinking.

I'd like to suggest that maybe we should think twice before deciding
the manager needs his thinking changed.

Ali's manager may, in fact, be correct (sort of).

The distinction as to whether they produce consumer software or not is
probably not important.

However, this statement is likely to be true:

> A manager said last week: "We are a technology driven corporation
> and that is why we are so successful".

User-centered design is not a panacea, nor is it helpful for every
type of design problem.

As I've mentioned before, UCD is just one approach to design (http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=35466
).

There are many companies that have reached millions in sales without
conducting user-focused research activities. Did they do it wrong? No.

So, instead, I'd give Ali different advice: Instead of trying to
convince your manager he's wrong, assume he's right.

Then ask the following question: If we have a problem with our design,
where would it manifest itself? Support calls? Training expense? Redo
work in engineering? Lost sales?

Look for evidence that there are indeed usability issues that lead to
frustration. Determine how that frustration eats into the company's
bottom line. That's where you'll get the most leverage, because those
are the places where the company isn't "so successful" and could have
an opportunity to become more successful.

For extra credit,I recommend you read the following:

The Cost of Frustration: http://is.gd/2ARV8

Deriving Design Strategy through Market Maturity
Part 1: http://is.gd/2ASen
Part 2: http://is.gd/2ASg1

Hope that helps,

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool

27 Aug 2009 - 12:53am
asbjorn
2009

I certainly agree that the customer may not be the (end) user, and that any
(usability) testing should involve end users.

However, if the initiating post's claim that "non-consumer products don't
need user testing" should withstand, the user is not a consumer but rather
an organisation, most often referred to as a customer (from the perspective
of the software vendor).

But then again, "end-user" would be the better term in any case.

A user-centered design (and development) process is usually a good idea - if
you want your application to be usable to it's end users, that is.

Asbjørn

2009/8/26 Milan Guenther <milan at guenther.cx>

>
> On Wed, August 26, 2009 08:18, Asbjorn wrote:
> > "Consumers" don't equal "users".
> > "Customers" do.
>
> Not always: for example, Oracle's customer is an organisation represented
> by some manager, who decides to buy that large ERP suite to solve a
> business problem, while users are actually just users or "end users". They
> don't equal customers, more so employees, business partners, job
> candidates or whatever.
>
> By the way, in the German software development community, there is a
> distinction between "Anwender" and "Benutzer", both translated as "user".
> But the first one is someone buying a software to solve a problem not
> necessarily directly using it, the second is someone actually interacting
> with the product. They are the same only if the person involved is a
> consumer/private person. (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benutzer)
>
> Milan
>
> --
> ||| | | |||| || |||||||| | || | ||
> milan guenther * interaction design
> p +49 173 2856689 * www.guenther.cx
>
>

27 Aug 2009 - 6:36am
Maria Cordell
2010

For those unable to see the replies, I don't know why that's
happening, but note that you can always search for threads via the
ixda.org site.

For example, at http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php, I searched for
"consumer products" and got this:

http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=44980&search=consumer+products

Hope that helps. It's a good thread! :)

Maria
--
Maria Cordell
mcordell at gmail.com

IxDA Atlanta
http://ixdaatlanta.ning.com/

On Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 7:37 AM, Claudia Oster<claudia at oster.co.at> wrote:
> I also can't see the posts in this thread!!
> Help us! :-)
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=.1010
>
>
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27 Aug 2009 - 9:26am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Aug 26, 2009, at 10:53 PM, Asbjørn wrote:

> A user-centered design (and development) process is usually a good
> idea - if
> you want your application to be usable to it's end users, that is.

It is? Then how do you explain Apple's products?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

27 Aug 2009 - 10:03am
jayeffvee
2007

Asbjørn said "usually." Is "usually" not accurate?

How about "many times"? "In a lot of cases, given the right business
context"? (as was the meaning I took from Jared's post...)

Plus, what about Fred Beecher's point in his recent Johnny Holland
article (http://johnnyholland.org/magazine/2009/08/the-iphone-is-not-easy-to-use-a-peek-into-the-future-of-experience-design/
) that the iPhone - for one example of an Apple product - actually
*isn't* easy to use, but we don't care so much about that because it's
a lot of fun?

On Aug 27, 2009, at 10:26 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Aug 26, 2009, at 10:53 PM, Asbjørn wrote:
>
>> A user-centered design (and development) process is usually a good
>> idea - if
>> you want your application to be usable to it's end users, that is.
>
> It is? Then how do you explain Apple's products?

Joan Vermette
email: jayeffvee at mac.com

27 Aug 2009 - 10:06am
Nasir Barday
2006

>
> Asbjørn wrote:
>
> A user-centered design (and development) process is usually a good idea -
>> if
>> you want your application to be usable to it's end users, that is.
>
>
> Andrei wrote:
> It is? Then how do you explain Apple's products?
>

God, it's so easy to mix up "user centered design" with good ol'
"interaction design" or even "good design." I should have gotten some more
context from Ali before posting up a solution. Do the things his company
does actually suck? Or is there already an innate empathy for end-users,
such that they don't need a separate role called "designer"? (in Apple's
case, it's more of the latter)

27 Aug 2009 - 10:08am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Aug 27, 2009, at 8:03 AM, Joan Vermette wrote:

> Asbjørn said "usually." Is "usually" not accurate?

In my experience, no. In fact, I've yet to find anything that followed
a UCD process that was what I would consider well designed. Often
because the people who practice this sort of thing tend to focus far
too much on the "user" part and less on the "design" part.

> Plus, what about Fred Beecher's point in his recent Johnny Holland
> article (http://johnnyholland.org/magazine/2009/08/the-iphone-is-not-easy-to-use-a-peek-into-the-future-of-experience-design/
> ) that the iPhone - for one example of an Apple product - actually
> *isn't* easy to use, but we don't care so much about that because
> it's a lot of fun?

Really? Do you actually believe that?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

27 Aug 2009 - 10:12am
jayeffvee
2007

Which part of this are you asking about my believing - the "not easy
to use" part or the "we don't care because it's fun" part?

On Aug 27, 2009, at 11:08 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>
>
>> Plus, what about Fred Beecher's point in his recent Johnny Holland
>> article (http://johnnyholland.org/magazine/2009/08/the-iphone-is-not-easy-to-use-a-peek-into-the-future-of-experience-design/
>> ) that the iPhone - for one example of an Apple product - actually
>> *isn't* easy to use, but we don't care so much about that because
>> it's a lot of fun?
>
> Really? Do you actually believe that?
>

Joan Vermette
email: jayeffvee at mac.com

27 Aug 2009 - 10:18am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Aug 27, 2009, at 8:12 AM, Joan Vermette wrote:

> Which part of this are you asking about my believing - the "not easy
> to use" part or the "we don't care because it's fun" part?

The claim that the iPhone isn't easy to use.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

27 Aug 2009 - 10:44am
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

Andrei:

" In my experience, no. In fact, I've yet to find anything that followed a
UCD process that was what I would consider well designed. Often because the
people who practice this sort of thing tend to focus far too much on the
"user" part and less on the "design" part."

Two years ago when I started with this list you were saying the same
nonsense.

Please stop.

There are many of us who are excellent designers and have been for years. We
care a lot about the user and usability as well as design.

I got it. You think that UCD is wrong.

IMO, that is a superficial and shallow analysis of what UCD is really about.
It does nothing to advance our profession.

And while there are lots of ways we can make design better, removing the
user as the central focus in not one of them.

Please -- no more unless and until you have something constructive to add.

(BTW, I will not respond further as I have no time or interest in
re-igniting the "flame wars" but I really think it would be better to think
a lot more critically than you appear to be doing rather than make blanket
statements that dismiss an entire 30 or so years of hard, deep and
thoughtful work. If you have "yet to find anything that followed a UCD
process that was what I would consider well designed," I would suggest that
says more about you than about the field.

Charlie

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

27 Aug 2009 - 11:36am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Aug 27, 2009, at 8:44 AM, Charles B. Kreitzberg wrote:

> " In my experience, no. In fact, I've yet to find anything that
> followed a
> UCD process that was what I would consider well designed. Often
> because the
> people who practice this sort of thing tend to focus far too much on
> the
> "user" part and less on the "design" part."
>
> Two years ago when I started with this list you were saying the same
> nonsense. Please stop.

Jared is not saying what I'm saying (that people focus too much on the
user and that nothing good has come of a UCD enforced process), but I
still find his talk on this subject to be extremely reasonable:

http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2008/04/23/ia-summit-keynote-journey-to-the-center-of-design/

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

27 Aug 2009 - 12:40pm
jayeffvee
2007

Yes, I think the iPhone is not easy to use. Here's my example:

I bought my iPhone about a week ago, and a few days later I had a
personal safety issue arise. With my old phone in that instance, I
would have quickly dialed 911 and kept my thumb poised over the "call"
button. The motion involved in that would have been:

Flipping open phone.
Feeling for raised keys on a keypad very like every other phone I've
had since 1978.
Glancing down for the call button.
Placing my thumb on it.
Holding phone in my hand.

With my iPhone, the motion involved:

Waking up the phone.
Unlocking the phone.
Getting out of the last app I was in when the phone fell asleep.
Clicking the phone button.
Finding and clicking the button to bring up the phone keypad.
Dialing 911.
Realizing I couldn't easily hover over the call button because I was
so nervous and the touch screen so sensitive.
Holding phone in my hand.
**/Waking up the phone again to check it.
Unlocking the phone
Holding it in my hand./**

In the midst of this (and with a creep possibly following me on a
dark, empty street) I began to realize that I could probably change
the settings so the phone would not fall asleep so quickly, but was
too scared to attempt it. I also wished for a panic button, but
certainly was not going to browse the App Store in those circumstances.

There was some clear user error in that scenario - I should have just
made the potentially needless 911 call and had the police talk me
through my fear -- but given the occasion I wasn't really thinking
straight. I'd hoped I was wrong about being followed; talking to
police would have made that fear paradoxically seem more real. That's
silly, yes - but perhaps understandable, nonetheless? When I've been
in similar circumstances before, I've noticed a emotive cycle of "fear/
feel like a silly ass," and I believe that is typical - and for us in
this discussion, illustrative of the real emotional user contexts for
which we designers need to account. Note that my old conventional
phone accounts for this emotional context by providing a hard button
that can't easily be pressed accidentally. I haven't figured out if
the iPhone accounts for this at all - it didn't in a way that was
easily learnable at the time.

So yes, I think the iPhone is hard to use. I've since downloaded an
app called "911" that is a panic button: it would be good to have that
installed with the iPhone from the factory. At the time, I certainly
needed it more than I needed a "Stocks" button, for instance, which
does come pre-installed.

So in conclusion, I do feel strange about sharing so much. I've
shared this because I believe it's a classic example of the "don't
make me think" rule - in this instance, my needing to think just may
have come at the cost of my life, for all I knew. Also, please
forgive me the slight snideness of the "since 1978" line, above - I
realize that there may also have been a learning curve involved if I
were using an unfamiliar conventional phone, but I still don't think
it would have been as great a curve as the learning I had to do with
my iPhone. My iPhone still took eight unfamiliar steps instead of
five relatively familiar ones banking on established phone interface
designs, and I think that makes it hard to learn and hard to use.

I'm fine, and there's been no sign of my stalker, since.

Thanks.

On Aug 27, 2009, at 11:18 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

>
>
>> Which part of this are you asking about my believing - the "not
>> easy to use" part or the "we don't care because it's fun" part?
>
> The claim that the iPhone isn't easy to use.
>

Joan Vermette
email: jayeffvee at mac.com
primary phone: 617-495-0184

27 Aug 2009 - 1:03pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Aug 27, 2009, at 10:40 AM, Joan Vermette wrote:

> With my iPhone, the motion involved:
>
> Waking up the phone.
> Unlocking the phone.

If the iPhone is locked, there is a button on it that says "Emergency
Call" on the keycode screen (bottom left) which bypasses nearly all of
the steps you listed and lets you get to talking to 911 immediately.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

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

27 Aug 2009 - 1:08pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I think @jmspool nailed it. the issue isn't whether or not UCD is
needed. the issue is whether or not the product has room for
improvement and that those improvements speak to the core
stakeholders involved.

So what are the problems you think end-users are having and how do
you think those problems effect the stakeholders who are making
decisions. Do these stakeholders even realize there is a problem? if
not, how can you communicate with them the needs you want to design
solutions towards.

Part of this is UCD, and part of this is just old fashion marketing
and all of it is collaborative.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=44980

27 Aug 2009 - 1:30pm
Ali Naqvi
2008

Thank you all for responding. I am trying yet again to post a reply. I
am not sure whether this will reach you guys, or be "gone" forever
somewhere "out there".
I personally believe that is you create a service or a product, UCD
is the best development process.
The manager I quoted was happy about creating tons of patents
eventhough NO one used them. He said it himself. "We create tons of
features that no other company can duplicate. We get patents too. Our
customers ask for specific features and when we create them, they
don't use them at all. our focus is on features."
Then he showed a picture where only 2 features were used out of 30
features.

How about focusing on the features that are used by the user and
improve them?? Why have 50 engineers work on features,
features...features that aren't used anyway?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=44980

27 Aug 2009 - 1:59pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Ali, have you ever thought you're just in the wrong organization? Not
every organization is going to get it and well, as long as their
stockholders (public, private or otherwise) are happy, why would
anyone care?

Jared & my point is to discover problems and try to fix them. forget
about UCD. Rather be a problem solver.

"everything is a nail with a hammer in your hands" --[who 1st said
this?]

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=44980

27 Aug 2009 - 1:59pm
Ali Naqvi
2008

Jared:
The companies that make MILLIONS without a user centered design
principle may be the ONLY one in that specific industry. It could
also be that users simply just "accept" whatever these companies
create / offer without complaining.
For me, a company that offer a product, should follow an ethical code
just like a company that pollutes the environment. Making money is
ofcourse the main aim of business but should this affect the
environment or frustrate the users?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=44980

27 Aug 2009 - 9:12pm
Jarod Tang
2007

>
> A manager said last week: "We are a technology driven corporation
>> and that is why we are so successful".
>>
>
> User-centered design is not a panacea, nor is it helpful for every type of
> design problem.
>
> As I've mentioned before, UCD is just one approach to design (
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=35466).
>
> There are many companies that have reached millions in sales without
> conducting user-focused research activities. Did they do it wrong? No.
>
> So, instead, I'd give Ali different advice: Instead of trying to convince
> your manager he's wrong, assume he's right.

I'm afraid this will leads designers' work into a trap, if the designer
really assumes the "tech driven is right".
But as a tactic, designer could avoid such fruitless discussion ( like, "No,
xxx should be user needs/motivation driven instead of tech driven" ) , with
a user centered driven mind-set in the core, and push the product
development going. As the result, more than less, user centered driven
methods will push tech's improvement as many designers found, which will
convince tech/engineering side co-workers.

Cheers,
-- Jarod
--
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

28 Aug 2009 - 9:57am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 27 Aug 2009, at 11:08, dave malouf wrote:

> I think @jmspool nailed it. the issue isn't whether or not UCD is
> needed. the issue is whether or not the product has room for
> improvement and that those improvements speak to the core
> stakeholders involved.
[snip]

Those problems have also got to be the most important problem that the
company is facing too.

For example, I did a bunch of competitive analysis style usability
tests for $company a few years back. While it highlighted some fairly
severe problems - the competitor sites were *so* much worse it was
silly (e.g. only 5 in 25 could successfully register on one of the
sites.)

$company chose to allocate the resources they were going to spend
improving the user experience for end-users on adding features for
another user group. That was absolutely the best decision for them to
make (even if it did mean I'd researched myself out of a nice little
contract :-)

As others have said I think you need to try and get somewhere where
you can help management make informed decisions about how UCD will
affect them. Only then will you get the chance to actually convince
them to do some.

Cheers,

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

28 Aug 2009 - 5:37pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Aug 27, 2009, at 12:59 PM, Ali Naqvi wrote:

> The companies that make MILLIONS without a user centered design
> principle may be the ONLY one in that specific industry.

I don't know what you mean by a "user centered design principle." If
you are talking about some philosophical approach to thinking about
users, I can tell you that very few of the companies that are
successful at producing great experiences for their users have such a
philosophy. Philosophies don't design products. Solid design
activities are what designs products.

If you're talking about companies that don't regularly execute solid
design activities that many would consider "user centered" activities
(such as usability testing, field research, contextual inquiry, and
others), then your statement above is incorrect. Some are the only
game in town, but most aren't. Most have competitors with solid
offerings.

The way they succeed is they have a sense of what good design is and
they build to that. And they do it without executing the activities.

Also, there are many companies that execute those activities that
produce what their customers believe are crappy designs. So, the
execution of user-centered design activities does not guarantee
successful products.

> It could
> also be that users simply just "accept" whatever these companies
> create / offer without complaining.

Rarely. People, in general, have no trouble complaining, even when
things are done really well.

> For me, a company that offer a product, should follow an ethical code
> just like a company that pollutes the environment. Making money is
> ofcourse the main aim of business but should this affect the
> environment or frustrate the users?

Personally, I think that trying to force our notion of a good
experience onto companies as some sort of ethical obligation is an
arrogant position. Who is to say we have the right to tell other
people how they should design their products for their customers?

That's my thinking,

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool

28 Aug 2009 - 5:59pm
ambroselittle
2008

On Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 2:17 PM, Jordan, Courtney <CJordan at bbandt.com>wrote:

> But it still holds true that to the user, Joan, it wasn't "immediately
> learnable" given a high-stress, potentially dangerous situation.

-----

All this seems so odd to me, maybe cuz I can't relate directly.. If I were
safety conscious (and I'm really just not--I guess cuz I'm a big fat hairy
optimistic dude), one of the criteria I might have would be a phone that I
could dial 911 on ASAP. Any phone I considered, I would look at that. If I
bought an iPhone, I would find out how to do that *before* I got into the
situation.

I mean, I know that I am buying a phone that is not like the other phones
I've had, so I can't expect it to be like those phones, especially when the
main reason I'm buying it is precisely because it *isn't* like the other
phones. I know up front that I have some learnin to do, but I'm making that
trade-off for all the other benefits I perceive.

Now within the context of the iPhone on its own merits, if you do have it
locked and look at the keypad to unlock, you can see the emergency call
button as Andrei pointed out. I thought that was pretty clever, even though
I don't think about these things myself.

If you don't have the lock setup, it's not hard to set up a favorite as 911
and then set your home button double-click to go to phone favorites (the
default?), so you're talking about double-clicking a tactile button and then
one tap to call. Still pretty easy, IMO.

But yeah, you do have to invest in making sure you're safe. Kind of like
you might make sure you have your pepper spray on you before you head out.

-a

P.S. I do think the iPhone has areas for improvement, but it's still the
best thing since sliced bread as far as I'm concerned.

28 Aug 2009 - 8:15pm
jet
2008

Joan Vermette wrote:
> With my old phone in that instance, I
> would have quickly dialed 911 and kept my thumb poised over the "call"
> button. The motion involved in that would have been:
>
> Flipping open phone.
> Feeling for raised keys on a keypad very like every other phone I've had
> since 1978.
> Glancing down for the call button.
> Placing my thumb on it.
> Holding phone in my hand.

Exactly. We (USAians) haven't improved the mobile phone experience,
we've turned computer-tethered PDAs into substandard mobile phones.

I recently spent two weeks in Japan and spent a fair amount of time
playing with their kick-ass phones and watching people use them around
the country. Softbank has to give away iPhones, that's how much better
Japanese ketai are than what we have in the states. Don't believe me?
When's the last time you paid for your subway or lunch or vending
machine with your iPhone? When's the last time you watched broadcast
HDTV on your iPhone, or used your iPhone *instead of* owning a personal
computer or laptop?

Pretty much every phone I checked out had raised buttons, including the
ones with 16:9 HD capable screens. I miss being able to blind-dial on
my G1, while I saw plenty of Japanese people doing it while walking or
riding the subway with cheaper phones.

IMHO, replacing physical buttons with a touch-screen UI falls into the
"just because we can, doesn't mean we should" bucket.

--
J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
Designer, Fabricator, Hacker
design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

28 Aug 2009 - 8:17pm
Jarod Tang
2007

On Sat, Aug 29, 2009 at 6:23 AM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

>
> On Aug 27, 2009, at 10:12 PM, Jarod Tang wrote:
>
> I'm afraid this will leads designers' work into a trap, if the designer
>> really assumes the "tech driven is right".
>>
>
> What is that trap?
>
Designer should fight for the empathy with end user, isn't it? Or other
way? If designer try to base his design on this empathy, what the method
should be called besides UCD or similar names ?

>
>
> But as a tactic, designer could avoid such fruitless discussion ( like,
>> "No, xxx should be user needs/motivation driven instead of tech driven" ) ,
>> with a user centered driven mind-set in the core, and push the product
>> development going. As the result, more than less, user centered driven
>> methods will push tech's improvement as many designers found, which will
>> convince tech/engineering side co-workers.
>>
>
> I think *this* is a trap that is pretty bad. Whatever you considered
> "user-centered driven methods" are likely to be expensive. That expense
> isn't always justified for the results it will glean.

In project design practice, UCD (or human needs driven ) could be in
lightweight or other way as different designer (e.g., Alan Cooper also
present lightweight persona building process in About Face, and designers
really do like that), so the expense is not necessarily higher than other
way. But I fully agree this, as any other design process or trick, doesn't
mean definitely good result,which should be justified by real using process.

>
>
> Understanding when that expense will return value and when it won't is part
> of the process of good design management.
>

As above, there seems no conflict. But that's just from limited observation
and experience.

Cheers,
-- Jarod
--
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

29 Aug 2009 - 7:49pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Aug 27, 2009, at 11:44 AM, Charles B. Kreitzberg wrote:

> Andrei:
>
> " In my experience, no. In fact, I've yet to find anything that
> followed a
> UCD process that was what I would consider well designed. Often
> because the
> people who practice this sort of thing tend to focus far too much on
> the
> "user" part and less on the "design" part."
>
> Two years ago when I started with this list you were saying the same
> nonsense.
>
> Please stop.
>
> There are many of us who are excellent designers and have been for
> years. We
> care a lot about the user and usability as well as design.
>
> I got it. You think that UCD is wrong.
>
> IMO, that is a superficial and shallow analysis of what UCD is
> really about.
> It does nothing to advance our profession.

I've spent the last 10 or so years doing what I believe to be a deep
and thorough analysis of what UCD is really about. And I'm leaning
more towards Andrei's view based on that work.

I think the problem, Charlie, is that UCD is too amorphous to talk
about in any meaningful way. Depending on who you talk to, it's either
a "state of mind" / philosophy of approaching design (aka "it's
important to make sure user needs are taken into account") or it's a
series of steps (aka methodology) that involves specific activities.
There doesn't seem to be any agreement, amongst people who say they
practice UCD, on which it is. Some will say you're not doing "UCD"
unless you're doing the activities, while others say if users were
part of the underlying design thinking, then it was UCD regardless of
the activities.

Andrei talked in terms of "UCD Process" which is even harder to get
people nail down. Some describe it as a general set of activities
(usability testing, field research, modeling, and others), while some
describe it as a specific series of steps that you follow at specific
stages in the design process.

I don't know where you fall in terms of what UCD is. (I do remember
you promoting a methodology -- LUCID -- which had a series of
activities that proposed to help companies create better designs. Did
I get that right? Is UCD = LUCID in your mind?)

And then there's the big problem with the word Design. In most
descriptions of UCD, there are virtually no design activities. You
don't find ideation or synthesis. Critique usually falls more towards
criticism through test data (though techniques such as so-called
Expert Review or Heuristic Evaluation -- which often don't involve
either experts or heuristics -- eliminate the data to provide just
criticism without discussion). It isn't really design as defined by
any other approach.

At best, it's "user centered analysis", but the practice is so wide
and varied, that it's hard to figure out what good, quality analysis
should be.

So, while I agree that Andrei's statement is a little hyperbolic and
certainly taken from his own viewpoint, I would agree that it's really
hard to find any instances of product or design success that you can
point to UCD actually contributing to.

If we could all agree on what UCD was, that might make it easier, but
I'm not sure that's a useful place to dedicate resources. We all agree
that good design has huge benefits and maybe that's a good enough
place to stop the conversation.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool

29 Aug 2009 - 10:07pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

Hi Jared:

I think that I agree with what you are saying. Probably I should have been
more polite in my response but I was really ticked off by the comment " I've
yet to find anything that followed a UCD process that was what I would
consider well designed."

Really? Everything that has been done by designers over the past three
decades not one was well designed? Not one? Really?

Come on now. That sounds arrogant and shallow to me. (It also reminds me of
when I was a cognitive behavioral psychologist and at every staff meeting I
had to listed to a diatribe as to why psychoanalysis was a waste of time.
Yes, there are now better things but there were also come great insights).

Why does it matter? Here's why. As you point out, UCD is used in two
different ways:

1. As a philosophy which says that the user should be central to design
decision
2. As a methodology

There is no question in my mind that we can move beyond UCD as a
methodology. It's dated and perhaps somewhat cumbersome -- at least the way
that some people practice it. And those who use it are often not the most
design-oriented folks in the world. In that sense, I have no disagreement
with Andrei or the other UCD bashers out there.

You mention the LUCID Framework that I developed (with others) in the
1990's. Y'know, today LUCID looks really dated to me. I've been thinking a
lot about how to bring it into line with current thinking. My point being
that this is not an attempt to hang onto the past. I fully acknowledge that
we should move on.

Where I do get steamed is when people who should know better bash the
philosophy or fail to distinguish between the two. Why does this bother me?

Well, I've spent many years (as have you and many others) trying to make the
business world understand that designing for users is really important. It
has been a long and hard road and we are finally getting some traction. When
people publish stuff like that statement or even Don Norman writes an
article like "HCD Considered Harmful" I really worry about its impact on
executives who barely understand why they should care. Look at the thread
"We don't make consumer products, hence no need for a User Centered Design
development process" that you have been contributing to. How do you think
this manager would respond to statements that UCD is crap? I think he would
say "see even the practitioners don't believe in it." Does this help our
profession gain influence? Does it make business think more about design and
its value? I think not.

Believe me, I get it that not all "UCD" people are great designers. I get it
that there are other approaches. I don't disagree with any of that.

But I do feel strongly that we are building tools for people. And I believe
that concern for those people needs to be at the center of the design
process. If we give that up, we risk sacrificing the hard-won bit of
traction that we as a profession are finally getting. So UCD as a
methodology I will not defend, although (like psychoanalysis) I think it has
some real value. But as a philosophy -- that users matter, that usability
matters -- that I will fight for. Because I do believe it.

Too bad that we ended up with the same phrase meaning two things.

So here is my bottom line recommendation:

For those of you who feel UCD as a methodology should give way to more
modern approaches, great. Just stop bashing UCD because others, less
sophisticated than you, will misunderstand and come to the conclusion that
they don't need any design at all.

Is this really so hard to understand?

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

-----Original Message-----
From: Jared Spool [mailto:jspool at uie.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2009 8:49 PM
To: charlie at cognetics.com
Cc: 'Andrei Herasimchuk'; 'IXDA list'
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] We don\'t make consumer products, hence no need
for a User Centered Design development process.

On Aug 27, 2009, at 11:44 AM, Charles B. Kreitzberg wrote:

> Andrei:
>
> " In my experience, no. In fact, I've yet to find anything that
> followed a
> UCD process that was what I would consider well designed. Often
> because the
> people who practice this sort of thing tend to focus far too much on
> the
> "user" part and less on the "design" part."
>
> Two years ago when I started with this list you were saying the same
> nonsense.
>
> Please stop.
>
> There are many of us who are excellent designers and have been for
> years. We
> care a lot about the user and usability as well as design.
>
> I got it. You think that UCD is wrong.
>
> IMO, that is a superficial and shallow analysis of what UCD is
> really about.
> It does nothing to advance our profession.

I've spent the last 10 or so years doing what I believe to be a deep
and thorough analysis of what UCD is really about. And I'm leaning
more towards Andrei's view based on that work.

I think the problem, Charlie, is that UCD is too amorphous to talk
about in any meaningful way. Depending on who you talk to, it's either
a "state of mind" / philosophy of approaching design (aka "it's
important to make sure user needs are taken into account") or it's a
series of steps (aka methodology) that involves specific activities.
There doesn't seem to be any agreement, amongst people who say they
practice UCD, on which it is. Some will say you're not doing "UCD"
unless you're doing the activities, while others say if users were
part of the underlying design thinking, then it was UCD regardless of
the activities.

Andrei talked in terms of "UCD Process" which is even harder to get
people nail down. Some describe it as a general set of activities
(usability testing, field research, modeling, and others), while some
describe it as a specific series of steps that you follow at specific
stages in the design process.

I don't know where you fall in terms of what UCD is. (I do remember
you promoting a methodology -- LUCID -- which had a series of
activities that proposed to help companies create better designs. Did
I get that right? Is UCD = LUCID in your mind?)

And then there's the big problem with the word Design. In most
descriptions of UCD, there are virtually no design activities. You
don't find ideation or synthesis. Critique usually falls more towards
criticism through test data (though techniques such as so-called
Expert Review or Heuristic Evaluation -- which often don't involve
either experts or heuristics -- eliminate the data to provide just
criticism without discussion). It isn't really design as defined by
any other approach.

At best, it's "user centered analysis", but the practice is so wide
and varied, that it's hard to figure out what good, quality analysis
should be.

So, while I agree that Andrei's statement is a little hyperbolic and
certainly taken from his own viewpoint, I would agree that it's really
hard to find any instances of product or design success that you can
point to UCD actually contributing to.

If we could all agree on what UCD was, that might make it easier, but
I'm not sure that's a useful place to dedicate resources. We all agree
that good design has huge benefits and maybe that's a good enough
place to stop the conversation.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool

29 Aug 2009 - 10:12pm
Ali Naqvi
2008

Hello Jared,
there are tons of examples on a UCD approach that went wrong.
A successful UCD approach is where the cross functional team does a
heavy amount of "international" UX research, IA activity and
constant usability tests throughout the development process NOT
neglecting proper marketing. For a product to be sucsessful proper
marketing is needed. Many businesses forget this.
Also many teams do not conduct a heavy amount of research before
development and jump into designing after a few qualitative research
activities. The management is too eager and cannot wait to launch the
product, due to deciding a lauch date way to early.
Patience is what is needed. I know that I "might need a reality
check" but from what I've experienced at work this is what I see.
(part1)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=44980

29 Aug 2009 - 11:31pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Aug 29, 2009, at 11:07 PM, Charles B. Kreitzberg wrote:

> So here is my bottom line recommendation:
>
> For those of you who feel UCD as a methodology should give way to more
> modern approaches, great. Just stop bashing UCD because others, less
> sophisticated than you, will misunderstand and come to the
> conclusion that
> they don't need any design at all.
>
> Is this really so hard to understand?

I don't think this is really as much of a problem as you make it out
to be.

A manager, coming to the philosophy of creating designs that delight
users is good for business, will embrace it no matter what. Managers
who shy away from that philosophy will do so no matter what.

If they turn to any "sage writing" that argues either way, it's to
support a decision they've already come to.

Instead of worrying whether we're saying things that will be
misunderstood, let's focus on creating tools and techniques for those
folks who have already bought the koolaid.

Good design is hard enough to do when everyone is on the same page.
Let's focus our efforts on making that easier. Once we achieve that,
then we can worry about dealing with the misguided folks, assuming
they are still around.

Jared

30 Aug 2009 - 5:53am
Ali Naqvi
2008

Hi David,
the fetished customer base that tells their friends to buy the IPhone
is part of the marketing process. Its all part of the "weak
ties/Strong ties relationships that Apple takes advantage of.
http://www.si.umich.edu/~rfrost/courses/SI110/readings/In_Out_and_Beyond/Granovetter.pdf

I agree with you about not using the SAME UCD tools for every product
development. I never said that. I just stated that a proper UCD
approach would enable success. What proper? Ensuring enough
qualitative data. Unfortunately many designers STILL assume and
develop stuff based on pure assumptions.

With regards to MOTO:
I know what you mean. Atleast there is a UX / IA department in
Plantation for Subscribers... But where I am at there is none. I dont
work with mobile phones (consumer products)... (part1)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=44980

30 Aug 2009 - 6:25am
Christian Crumlish
2006

On Sat, Aug 29, 2009 at 10:07 PM, Charles B. Kreitzberg <
charlie at cognetics.com> wrote:

> . How do you think
> this manager would respond to statements that UCD is crap? I think he would
> say "see even the practitioners don't believe in it."
>

But there's a conflation in that statement
between "people posting to an interaction design list" and
"practitioners of UCD" and this thread makes it pretty clear that
those two identities aren't equivalent.

-x-

--
Christian Crumlish
I'm writing a book so please forgive any lag
http://designingsocialinterfaces.com

30 Aug 2009 - 6:50am
Andrew Boyd
2008

On Sun, Aug 30, 2009 at 2:31 PM, Jared Spool<jspool at uie.com> wrote:
> I don't think this is really as much of a problem as you make it out to be.
>
> A manager, coming to the philosophy of creating designs that delight users
> is good for business, will embrace it no matter what. Managers who shy away
> from that philosophy will do so no matter what.
>
> If they turn to any "sage writing" that argues either way, it's to support a
> decision they've already come to.
>
> Instead of worrying whether we're saying things that will be misunderstood,
> let's focus on creating tools and techniques for those folks who have
> already bought the koolaid.
>
> Good design is hard enough to do when everyone is on the same page. Let's
> focus our efforts on making that easier. Once we achieve that, then we can
> worry about dealing with the misguided folks, assuming they are still
> around.

Excellent position, Mr Spool.

In agreement, I would like to restate the obvious:
- Good design is good design - be it user centered or otherwise.
- Good designers may or may not use UCD methodologies/techniques/processes.
- Bad application of any methodology or group thereof is bad for that
methodology.

As an aside, I'd like to note that a certain amount of circular logic
has been applied throughout this thread - "my design was successful. I
used UCD, therefore UCD was successful" - conversely "Apple don't use
what I have read as UCD. Apple is successful. Therefore UCD is snake
oil". I think that both positions are wrong. It's like saying "My dog
has black and white fur. You have a black and white pet, therefore you
have a dog".

Some supplementary questions for you: are we only ever bottling "good
design" and selling it to one another, and to our clients who already
believe? Are we really only ever preaching to the converted? If so,
how do we step beyond that? Should we? Is "good design" so
self-evident that it sells itself?

Best regards, Andrew

--
---
Andrew Boyd
http://uxaustralia.com.au -- UX Australia Conference Canberra 2009
http://uxbookclub.org -- connect, read, discuss
http://resilientnationaustralia.org Resilient Nation Australia

30 Aug 2009 - 9:07am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Aug 30, 2009, at 7:50 AM, Andrew Boyd wrote:

> In agreement, I would like to restate the obvious:
> - Good design is good design - be it user centered or otherwise.
> - Good designers may or may not use UCD methodologies/techniques/
> processes.
> - Bad application of any methodology or group thereof is bad for that
> methodology.

Well put, Andrew. And I would further add that:
* A process is merely a means to an end. Don't forget it.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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