1 People-centred designing
This unit provides a taster of one of the most important concerns in product design - that the things we interact with with are both understandable and usable.
Unlike the toaster shown above, products should be user friendly. This applies to the cars we drive, the tools we use and the various computer devices we depend on to access information daily. Sadly, many products are not very usable. Mobile phones with unusable micro buttons, DVD recorders that cannot be understood, toasters that burn, jars with lids that cannot be removed. These are not failings on the part of the consumers – what is needed is a better and more people-centred design approach.
You do not need to be a designer, engineer or psychologist to study this course. It is aimed at those of us who consume design – which is everybody! This course will provide you with an introduction to some principles and techniques of people-centred design so that you might be empowered to offer better and more constructive criticism when things don't work – when product usability, particularly of consumer products, could be improved. Of course usability is just one of the many factors that designers need to be aware of. Products need to be manufacturable, they need to use materials that are suitable, they need to be sustainable and they need to be available to consumers at a certain price. Nevertheless, this course suggests that design must be first and foremost people-centred.
You might like to view these two short introductory video clips The first is Alison Black, (former) Head of Human Factors Design at the London office of the internationally renowned IDEO design consultancy. The second is James Dyson discussing usability issues of the DC01 bagless vacuum cleaner. Clicking on the play button will start each video.