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People-centred designing

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Designed products surround us all and range from bus tickets to buildings. This free course, People-centred designing, focuses firmly on usability and the increasingly important phenomenon of people-centred design. It aims to inform consumers of design (i.e., all of us) about this crucial characteristic of design. In addition to stimulating interest in areas of concern for producers of design, the course might also provide an introduction to engineering, manufacturing and business studies.

After studying this unit you should:

  • have gained a knowledge and understanding of the principles of user-centred designing;
  • be able to criticise some everyday products from a user's point of view;
  • be able to suggest and apply some appropriate methods for researching how users interact with products;
  • be able to apply comparison and evaluation skills, including constructive criticism of everyday products;
  • be able to apply observational skills in the context of both your own and others' use of products.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 12 hours
  • Updated Wednesday 5th March 2014
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Design
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People-centred designing

1 Introduction

Unit image

Designed products surround us all and range from bus tickets to buildings. One of the primary considerations in all fields of design is ‘usability’ and, increasingly, the phenomenon of ‘user-centred design’. This can focus on physical attributes of products but increasingly it depends on an understanding of our cognitive abilities required to operate even simple products. All people studying this unit will have some experience of designs that are not usable (perhaps mobile phones or car controls). This unit provides you with an introduction to the principles and procedures of design usability through the critical evaluation of selected products. Taking everyday examples, it develops students’ confidence and skills in critically evaluating products around them – particularly consumer products. This unit aims to inform ‘consumers’ of design (i.e. all of us) about one important characteristic of design.

This study unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course T211 Design and designing, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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