Thursday, January 17, 2008

User Driven Design is NOT User Centered Design!

Today I participated in a study conducted by the University of Basel –

It asked to wireframe a typical online shop, online newspaper and company web site by dragging and dropping UI elements like "main navigation" , "company logo", "contact link" onto a screen. What exactly does this study hope to accomplish?

If you want to improve usability on websites you need to look at each specific case. There is no generic online-shop which works for *all* situations, products and users. Leave the improvement of usability to designers who will apply user research results and combine them with their own skills and creativity. This kind of study does not lead to more usable web sites. Just to innovation-free same ol'-same ol'.

I believe in a designer's work experience, the knowledge of what works and what doesn't. I believe in creativity, breakthroughs and revolution. I believe in the intricate knowledge of human behavior and desire. Stop praying at the altar of the-user-knows-best!

Two days ago the Mac Book Air came out. If it will turn out to be a visionary product remains to be seen, but the omission of an optical drive, driven by the goal to create a truly wireless machine, is bold. It wouldn't have happened if you had ask typical laptop users if they wanted that.

It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.
Steve Jobs May 25, 1998

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