Thursday, July 13, 2006

User Research Smoke & Mirrors, Part 1: Design vs. Science

Series of articles on design vs. science, and usability testing...

"Research-based design is a noble and widely-admired approach to building good products, especially in the web design field.

Like a great many other user experience design firms, at Behavior we conduct research whenever possible, to whatever degree our clients’ budgets and timelines will allow. Our projects frequently involve usability testing (both lab-based and informal), card-sorting exercises, stakeholder interviews, user polls and quantitative analysis, direct ethnographic studies and contextual analysis, and/or secondary market research.

In short, we try to know as much as possible about our clients, their customers, and their competitors, and we use this knowledge to inform our design process.

Many web designers and consultancies, however, feel it’s not enough to use research to inform their design process. They go further: they try to make “scientific” user research the very foundation of their design process.

I use the word “try” because I suspect that the ideal of empirical, science-based user-centered design is something that we aspire to but never reach."   continued ...   (Via graphpaper)

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