Re: question about estimating relative importance of ucd

5 Jul 2005 - 2:22pm
533 reads
Doug Anderson

Hello Marijke,

I am not certain what you mean by "importance" in the context of your post. However, my ignorance has seldom kept me silent...

If the measure of importance is cost savings, or revenue increase, or whatever else, then the ordinal relative importance of some degree of UCD could probably be estimated with reasonable certainty for a specific pair of situations.

My hunch is that you might be saying the extent of ethnographic research or contextual inquiry required to understand the target users and their context(s) of use could be substantially less in the case of 3 domain experts. If so, UCD might be easier in that situation, but not necessarily less important.

Even in the simplest case: designing a tool for just yourself, UCD is very valuable. It just happens to be easier because you ARE your user, your goals and preferred methods are well understood if not yet stated explicitly.

In your example of 3 experts, optimization of the design is very important because they have to interact with the design continually to achieve most of their work-related goals. In your example of domain novices who only occasionally use the artifact, optimization is also very important - but to different ends for different reasons. They need a more discoverable interaction in which time-efficiency is less important.

UCD is a means by which to optimize either design.

I don't think any broad generalization about relative importance of UCD at either end of such a continuum can be very useful. (Nor is this post, in all probability ;>)

Best regards,
Doug Anderson

Opinions expressed are necessarily mine and not necessarily those of my employer.

Original message:
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 12:53:03 -0700
From: "Marijke Rijsberman" <marijke at>
Subject: [ID Discuss] question about estimating relative importance of
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I'm looking for resources that address the relative importance of UCD to different projects. All the materials that I can find appear to assume that UCD is equally important in all cases, whereas I'm pretty sure that it's less important for a project that will have 3 end users who are domain experts and who would spend 95% of their day using the system than for a project that would have 4 million end users who don't really understand the domain and would use the system once a year.

It would be great to find some discussion of this general notion and some approaches for estimating beforehand how important the user experience will be to the success of the project.

Any pointers will be appreciated.


Marijke Rijsberman

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