It’s all about YOU.

Problem solver is not something people would tend to describe me as. I wish it weren’t true, but I tend to get overwhelmed by the problem at hand and my lack of control in the situation. While it was rather challenging to read, Norman’s chapter on Design Thinking spoke to this aspect of my character.

blog1Norman first focuses on the importance of not just solving the problem, but solving the correct problem. He mentions that the key aspect of design is one that fits the needs and capabilities of people. The focus of design should always be on the people we are designing for, because why else would we design? He also encourages designers not to simply focus on the problem but what the real issue at hand is. Design can be driven by many different things, but should always be focused on finding the right problem and then the right solution. So, at the basis of all the work that goes into design, should be the human that will eventually use the product.

The Human Centered Design (HCD) process describes how you answer the questions posed by the Double Diamond model: 1) How do you find the right problem? 2) How do you find the right solution? There are four parts to HCD.

  1. Observation
    • Not a scientist in a lab
    • Go to potential customers and figure out what their needs are
    • Different than marketing: marketing researchers want to know who will buy and why
  2. Idea Generation (Ideation)
    • Fun part of design: creativity is key
    • Rules:
      1. Generate numerous ideas.
      2. Be creative without regard for restraints.
      3. Question everything. Ask stupid questions. (Norman’s 3rd Rule)
    • Don’t just do things the way they’ve always been done
  3. Prototyping
    • Only way to know if an idea will work it to test it (build it, try it, create it, etc.)
    • Wizard of Oz method: mimic a huge, powerful system long before it was built
    • Done mainly to ensure that the problem is understood
  4. Testing
    • Gather people who match target population
    • Ask them to use the object as they normally would
    • Testers observe to judge usability, ease of understanding, problem specification, etc.

However, many products have to be designed for people all over the world, who may react very differently depending on the person. That is where Activity Centered Design comes into play. This is especially useful for products like cars, telephones, cameras, refrigerators, and computers. This method lets the activity define the product, because surprisingly, most people around the world use these devices in the same ways, with small adjustments here and there. As long as the design is still sensitive to human capabilities, it will be successful.

Norman takes what he has said so far, though, and flips it upside down with this quote: “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is” (Norman, 236). So basically, Norman says that not all of this will go according to this distinct method every time. Actually, it very rarely will. But, the HCD method is simply in place to guide the thinking of those observing and ideating and prototyping and testing.


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