Re: UCD vs. Visionary (was: Bottom Line Design Awards)

7 Apr 2005 - 4:55pm
1040 reads
Garrick Van Buren


You're absolutely right. Recently, I had the conversation around
whether usability evaluation could drive product innovation or if
usability itself was synonym for 'design-by-committee'.

I think the key in both cases is to keep an eye on the problem being
solved. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the problem with 'first looks' in
his PopTech talk last fall ( ). He uses the Aeron
chair as an example - failed on first look, now an icon. For better or

In the television world, I'm astounded by the 'Family Guy'. Fox
canceled it and brought it back then canceled it countless times. Now
it's back on the schedule, driven by the popularity of its DVD sales.
In the black and white world of UCD vs Visionary, when does Fox call
the show a market success or failure? Is it both? neither?

Today, prototyping, modeling, and publishing are relatively cheap.
Where, no matter how hard companies try, "the street finds its own use
for things" (or not as the case with the Segway may be). With these two
things in mind, I propose, "customer-driven design" may be a more
beneficial perspective to drive innovation.

Garrick Van Buren

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ph: 612 325 9110

On Apr 7, 2005, at 3:14 PM, George Olsen wrote:

> Both Post-It notes and the Internet fall into this category. Now that
> they're here, we can't imagine life without them, but prior to their
> conception, it's doubtful you could've imagined them, nor pointed to
> the
> needs they fulfill. (The inventor of Post-Its actually had great
> trouble
> persuading 3M to develop it -- after all, who who want a non-sticky
> glue...)
> UCD methods don't necessarily have much to offer in the idea
> generation --
> since the solution often uncovers the problem -- but UCD can be useful
> in
> separating the wheat from the chaff, i.e. the Internet and Post-Its
> from the
> Segways. The great difficulty is that its often hard for people to
> comprehend the idea at first-look, so it's really hard to gauge the
> appropriate mental model, the usability, etc. This was a huge problem
> during
> one of my past jobs. (Sorry, can't discuss the particulars, since it
> involves things not yet -- if ever -- to market.)
> Anyway, my $0.02...

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