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Tuesday 12|17|02
Designing without research?

Having just survived the recent batch of AOL layoffs, my team and I are now coming to the realization that we lost our team of user researchers. Now, don't get me wrong - we have a user research team on the east coast and they provide a lot of valuable insight to us. But our team here was more integrated into the design process and were partners with the UI team. We have been spoiled by having these people on our teams. Whenever a project was put together, UI and research were assigned together as a team, sometimes even before visual design was assigned. As a team we worked together to identify where we needed user feedback and what types of methods to use.

I am coming to terms with this and now realize we need to get extremely creative about integrating user research into our process now that we have to do it ourselves. We are committed to continuing this important part of the design process and I believe we can't create good products without it.

Any advice? Tips? Tricks? How have you solved this problem? What types of low budget, guerilla tactics have you used? How have you compensated users with no budget?

Posted by erin at 10:58 PM | in User Centered Design :: | Link | Comments (4)

Wednesday 02|20|02
Watch and Learn

Marc Rettig is teaching a course at CMU that is taking on the design of the museum experience. Very cool. The site is capturing the process and findings of the three student teams and contains a lot of interesting stuff.

PeterMe recently noticed this as well and there are some good links being shared in the comments.

Posted by erin at 09:52 PM | in User Centered Design :: | Link

Monday 09|24|01
User Centered Design

A lot of discussion on the SIGIA list and the CHIWEB lists talk about User Centered design, but there isn't a ton of conversation or literature written about this from the perspective of the Design field. The design industry has seemed to ignore this important philosophical perspective of design - until recently. The latest issue of Loop - the AIGA journal for design education - is focused on User Centered Design with articles on methodolgy and practice from a team at Sapient and an overview of a workshop led by Paul Rothstein, Melissa Niederhelman and Katherine and Michael McCoy at Arizona State University. It is great to see the AIGA tackle this, as many designers are being asked to practice this. For many of us, the tools and techniques for bringing users into our process are not known and are not taught in the design schools (with the exception of a few, like Carnegie Mellon and IIT) although concern for the end audience has always been of primary concern.

To accompany this I thought I would also point the links to the Usability Toolkit site. This site has all sorts of tools, checklists and other how-to's for practicing user centered design. It is a very practical site and has come in handy for my team. Most recently they have posted information for making a Paper prototyping kit.

Posted by erin at 01:30 PM | in User Centered Design :: | Link | Comments (1)

Friday 03| 2|01
User Centered Design Thoughts

Just finished reading Lou Rosenfeld's interview with Christina Wodtke. She shares her evolution into IA and her thoughts on user centered IA. I mention this because I have been interviewing for jobs all over the bay area and most of the firms want to know what my User Centered Design Process is. I think this is something that every interaction designer, web designer and information architect should think about - even write down. It is more than slapping in usability testing on the end of a product cycle. I have had to crystallize and articulate my process to many people and it has made me think about how I actually practice this process. I have also become more aware of when we have to cut corners and compress timelines and in most cases user testing suffers. So here are my thoughts on the whole process:

Posted by erin at 03:56 PM | in User Centered Design :: | Link

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