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exercise in user centered design directions overview this lesson guides students thr 5151292

Exercise in User Centered Design


Overview: This lesson guides students through an abbreviated version of the design process. It is meant to take about 1.5 hours including the reading. Students first brainstorm a list of potential user characteristics of a product of their choosing. They then create profiles of potential users and choose a single user profile. Students repeat this process to brainstorm needs of their user, eventually choosing one need to focus on. Finally, students explain how their product will fulfill the specific needs they brainstormed to guide their decision making. At the end of the exercise, students summarize their decision-making process.

Purpose: This exercise is a fast-paced introduction to the user-centered design process, intended to give students an experience with user-centered design that they can build on later. The primary goal is to establish design decisions that will be made with the user needs in mind. The practice of categorizing lots of disparate ideas and then focusing on one will also help students when making other management decisions.

Main Exercise:

  • Choose and briefly describe a product that you’d like to develop. Products could include apps, clothing, business systems, anything!
  • Create a list or table to identify as many different potential user characteristics as you can think of. Characteristics could include age range, hobbies, musical taste, hair style, goals for using your product, paint points, really anything you can think that will help you define your user base.
  • Make a profile of at least 3 different users by combining the characteristics defined in the last step. (A user profile you can use as a model or make your own:
  • Choose one user profile that you think is the most applicable to your product. Why is that user profile more applicable than the others?
  • Create a list or table of needs of the user you picked. Think carefully about what might be important to that user; not other users and not yourself.
  • Pick one need from the previous list. Describe how that need will be met by your product. Include what features your product must have to fulfill that user need.
  • Explain what other systems/products/businesses your product will need to interact with to fulfill user needs (e.g., An app needs to be on the app store. Which app store? Apple exclusive or on all stores? It also needs an ISP or cell service company to connect the device, etc.)
  • Create a brief summary including:
    • Who your user is and what specific need you identified
    • The features of the product designed
    • How the features addressed the need you chose
    • At least one feature of the product you might not have included but added to meet the needs of the user

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