Friday, July 07, 2006

MBA elective week 6: users and usability

In this class we looked in more detail about ideas which are particularly part of the language and practices of those designing products and services using digital and networked technologies. Concepts such as user-centred design, usability, affordances and inclusive design are increasingly current in the practices of interaction designers, experience designers and service designers, sometimes working in collaboration with social science specialists such as sociologists, anthropologists or psychologists, or sometimes with the designer acting as researcher or data-gatherer. These ideas are increasingly critical in a context in which the visual or stylistic qualities of a designed artefact may not be sufficient to gain acceptance among users. To make some of the reading more meaningful, the class went through a role play exercise in which some of them had responsibility for re-designing a service for a city council. Some of the others acted as service users (actual or potential). The structured scearnio forced the MBAs playing the council managers and re-design team to ask themselves how to evaluate potential service improvements, how to gather data about the service and its users and the nature of different kinds of data produced by different techniques, and how to engage with users.

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