Friday, December 14, 2007

Peter in Conversation with Don Norman about ux & innovation

Don Norman on UX ...

"We’re pleased to announce that user experience pioneer Don Norman will be speaking at Adaptive Path’s UX Week 2008 conference. Earlier this month, I chatted with Don to see what he’s thinks about user experience design today and what companies need to do to innovate. The following are edited excerpts from our conversation. This essay represents maybe 25% of the full conversation (which also touches on the history of product design, organizational challenges, service design, systems thinking), feel free to listen to the full hour-long conversation.

Peter Merholz [PM]: I’m really excited that you’re going to be speaking at our UX Week conference in 2008. One of the reasons I’m excited is that in 1998, I did some research on the phrase ‘user experience’ and the first references pointed to you. I emailed you about it then, and you replied, “I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design graphics, the interface, the physical interaction and the manual. Since then the term has spread widely, so much so that it is starting to lose it’s meaning.”

So now it’s 2007, what do you think of the phrase, ‘user experience’?

Don Norman [DN]: Yes, user experience, human centered design, usability; all those things, even affordances. They just sort of entered the vocabulary and no longer have any special meaning. People use them often without having any idea why, what the word means, its origin, history, or what it’s about.

PM: Do you get a chance to design much any more?

DN: No, actually I don’t, but I teach design so it’s kind of fun, I get a chance to critique design, critique in a positive sense of urging the students on to do better, better thoughts, deeper analysis, sometimes more exciting designs, more pleasurable designs. And actually, the thing I really work on is asking the right questions, so the rule I have for myself when I consult with clients and the rule I teach my students, is: Do not solve the problem that’s asked of you. It’s almost always the wrong problem. Almost always when somebody comes to you with a problem, they’re really telling you the symptoms and the first and the most difficult part of design is to figure out what is really needed to get to the root of the issue and solve the correct problem."    (Continued via adaptive path)    [Usability Resources]

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