Human-centred design practices: five common myths

Submitted by Sarah Pullman on Wed, 2007-10-03 16:13.

with Dave Robertson of Critical Mass

notes by Donna Barker

Brief, inaccurate history of interaction
2 people carrying out a transaction
Buying a computer in Brazil 10 years ago as case study: in person interaction with questions and finding out what the purchasers needs are to custom build the computer.

Buying a computer in Prince Rupert 10 years ago as case study: catalogue to guide first impression, call the vendor to have other questions answered.

Buying a computer today: most people in room have bought a PC online in the last 2 years. Salesperson is mediating purchasers with thousands of people a day who they never see face to face. The problem, if you can’t see who you’re talking to, this is what happens: the vendor goes through increasing degree of isolation from customers and don’t know who those customers are.

The first step is to be self-referential. “We need to build a site to sell computers and I think it should behave like this.” But it’s like looking into a mirror. You don’t see the millions of customers behind the mirror, you only see yourself.

Impact on the manufacturer and brand is that it compromises the loyalty of the relationship since people don’t get what they expected or need.

The values of “usability”
Usability is an outcome: ensuring that people can get info easily or buy a computer online is just an outcome. It’s not the most desirable thing you can encourage. You want a greater range of aspects to take place.

Brief, inaccurate definition: user experience
User experience is what happens between your head, your heart and the devise you’re using. If you have a good experience you’re getting things done, finding info you want to find. You feel good about the experience. If you have a bad experience, you feel bad and start to dislike the technology you’re dealing with.

3 types of user experience:

➢ Is the experience useful?
o Do the features and functions what people actually want to do?

➢ Is the experience usable?
o The features and functions simple, easy to understand and intuitive? Can you complete the task easily?

➢ Is the experience compelling?
o Connects to loyalty, trust. How do I feel about this experience when I’m finished?

Different devise have different importance vales on useful, useable, and compelling. Video games need to be hard to use to be compelling. Online banking needs to be very useable.

Jason’s approach to campaign design and product design
➢ Functionality, new idea = useful
➢ Execution= usability
➢ Brand, story, concept = compelling
If you fail on one, you’ll fail with meeting your audience needs

Hotel website experience. Show how great the hotel is before the price comes up so they don’t go into sticker shock and understand the value of the room rate.

The role of (business) objectives
Understand your own business goals before you build. If you don’t know what you’re gong to get out of it you can’t build to meet your needs. Forrester Research/Paul Sanderager:
➢ Figure out your biz objectives
➢ Figure out what your customers want
➢ Line them up
There are some customer objectives you won’t be able to fulfill. There are also objectives the company may have that the customer won’t do.

Human-centred design is rationalizing your objectives with your customers objectives. If you can find that, you can’t lose.

The framework
Three circles connected: understand… create… evaluate
You have to go through all 3 stages to get a human-centred result

➢ Understand: the motivation of your constituents by talking to people who will use your product about their needs, interests and desires.
➢ Understand: your own business objectives
o Good resource: Understanding the User experience: A practioner’s guide by Mike Kuniavasky
o Good resource: Paper prototyping by Caroline Schneider
o Good resource: Don’t make me think by Steve Krueg

➢ Create: Draw the constituents in again after you’ve started to build to get opinions on your work in progress.

➢ Evaluate: overtime people and circumstances change. You must have a good web analytics solution to tell you if your site is still working for you.

The myths
Myth: Cost and time: we can’t afford to do this process.
Fact: if you invest 10 hours in checking out the new application, you could save 40 hours of build time if nobody is going to use it.

Myth: You need expertise
Fact: these techniques are accessible in books and through the community online.

Myth: ideation (designers are from Venus) is its own silo and can work on their own
Fact: take them on the research process

Myth: Strategy (strategists are from Mars) is its own silo and can work on their own
Fact: take them on the research process so they can rationalize their strategy

Myth: Impact: human-centred design doesn’t make that much difference
Fact: look at the interface of your website and find where it may be suspect; do some informal testing; check out web analytics; make some changes… you’ll be surprised. A small change in a large number can be a large result/change. i.e a 2% increase on 100,000 transactions is 2,000 more transactions.

When figuring out personas:
More I missed….

Beth is a 28 year old mom with two kids whose husband travels and she needs to get groceries for dinner on Friday when her husband gets home…


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