Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Designing Breakthrough Products: Going Where No User Has Gone Before

User centered design can only go so far in producing a new product ...

"For UX designers, some of the most exciting projects to work on are new-to-the-world or breakthrough products that solve real problems people didn’t even realize they had. Get them right and they may be hugely successful in the marketplace, but they’re also the riskiest projects. While user-centered design (UCD) techniques can sometimes be valuable on new-product projects, more often, they don’t seem to work particularly well when designing breakthrough products. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from my own work on new-product projects.

Know when UCD techniques aren’t what you need.

When it comes to matters of aesthetics and fashion, UCD techniques offer little assistance. They can’t tell you how people will respond to products they’ve never seen before, products people have difficulty imagining—for example, imagine trying to explain today’s Internet to someone 30 years ago—or products whose success is simply a matter of taste. For example, the House of Dior once had a fashion-show hit with a dress they made out of newspaper. So, they created a version of the dress in newsprint-look fabric, which became a huge commercial success.

... Figure 2 shows Yahoo!® MyWeb, which I helped design. It had its genesis in field research that showed people had great difficulty again finding information they’d saved from previous searches. None of the interviewees mentioned they wanted something like MyWeb, but Yahoo! designers could envision something users couldn’t, because we were aware of the technology we could bring to bear on the problem."    (Continued via UXmatters)    [Usability Resources]

Yahoo! MyWeb - Usability, User Interface Design

Yahoo! MyWeb

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