Re: User-centered design

Subject: Re: User-centered design
From: Alfred Barten <barten -at- ORRQMS2 -dot- GDDS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 13:21:13 -0500

There's a wonderful book titled "The Design of Everyday Things". I don't
have the book in front of me here at work, so I can't tell you the author's
name. It's not a book about software design or the design of any single
thing, but rather a lengthy, inciteful look into the way people perceive
and interact with everyday things (e.g., toasters, telephones, radios, and
- yes - computers). I haven't finished the book yet, but some of the points
are that many of the errors people make are the result of poor design,
rather than operator error. The author points out, among other things, that
designers are not typical users and are thus not qualified to test. This is
especially true of testing one's own product. My suggestion - which is
what I plan to do when I finish the book - is to go through the points
carefully and develop a regimen for gathering future users' needs and ideas
before designing, then have real users do the testing. The tough part will
be to train myself to be conscious of the things - often little - that
impede easy, error-free use.

Al Barten
Tech Writer
General Dynamics Defense Systems
Pittsfield, MA



At 08:25 AM 2/8/99 -0600, Kristin Zibell wrote:
>How does a tech writer implement user-centered design techniques into their
>information development process? What are some chanllenges that tech
>writers face when doing so? I am asking these questions because
>"user-centered design" is all I hear about a work, and I am curious how
>other tech writers use it. Any information would be helpful, thanks.
>
>Sincerely,
>Kristin Zibell
>
>
>Software Engineer
>IBM Rochester
>
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