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As you would expect,
user-centered development involves finding out a lot about
the users and their tasks, and using this information to inform
design. In Chapter 7 we introduced some datagathering
techniques which can be used to collect this information,
including naturalistic observation. Studying people in their
"natural'' surroundings as they go about their work can
provide insights that other datagathering techniques
cannot, and so interaction designers are keen to use this
approach where appropriate. One particular method that has
been used successfully for naturalistic observation in the
social sciences is ethnography. It has also been used with
some success in product development but there have been some
difficulties knowing how to interpret and present the data
gathered this way so that it can be translated into practical
Another aspect of usercentered development
is user involvement in the development process. There are
different degrees of involvement, one of which is through
evaluation studies, as discussed in Chapters 10 through 14.
Another is for users to contribute actively to the design
itself to become co-designers. As Gillian Crampton
Smith said in the interview at the end of Chapter 6, users
are not designers, but the payoffs for allowing users to contribute
of the product. So techniques have been developed that engage
users actively and productively in design.
In this chapter, we discuss some issues surrounding
user involvement, and expand on the principles underlying
a usercentered approach. Then we describe two approaches
to using ethnographic data to inform design and two approaches
to involving users actively in design.
The main aims of this
chapter are to:
- Explain some advantages of involving
users in development.
- Explain the main principles of a
- Describe some ethnographicbased
methods aimed at understanding users'
- Describe some participative design
techniques that help users take an active
part in design decisions.