Cooper U practicum (was: Assessment Tests)

7 Feb 2005 - 8:10pm
918 reads
Josh Seiden

> What I'd hope to learn from the collective wisdom of this list
> - Do any of you recommend these courses, given their expense?
> - For a very small company with no research budget to speak
> of, is Cooper's interview/testing method practicable?


I'm an occasional instructor of the Cooper U Practicum, so I'm
pretty familiar with the course and can perhaps answer some of
your questions.

First, the Practicum teaches Cooper's method for doing
interaction design, called Goal Directed Design. The course is
does not attempt to be an intro to UX design, which is good and
bad, depending on your need. It doesn't go very broad, but it
does go about as deep as a 4 day "intro" course possibly can.

If you simply want to begin a design education, I would consider
waiting a while before taking the Practicum. If you're looking to
leave a course and start designing a product immediately, then
this is a good type of course to take. That said, don't expect to
master this (or any other) design system in 4 days. Regardless of
the system, you'll need experience to apply it well.

As to the dollar value:
- if you expect to begin a career as an interaction designer,
you'll get a lot of mileage out of what you learn in the course,
so you could consider it a long-term investment.
- if you only plan to design this one product, you might consider
hiring an experienced designer to collaborate with instead.
Although $2k won't buy a lot of time, it might buy you a few days
of consulting that would help you structure your thinking and
your product enough to move forward.

Finally, you ask about applying GDD on a limited budget. Cooper's
methods are actually a very cost effective way to do research and
analysis. Basically, you go to where your users are, watch them,
and then talk about it in a structured way after the observations
are complete. If you have the time to spare, and your user
population is local, you can do the work essentially for free. No
labs, no cameras, no focus groups, etc.


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