Old School Usability Design: Gould and Lewis

We have a look at Gould and Lewis’ 1985 paper ‘Designing for Usability’ [1] in which the authors present and discuss three principles for user centered design:

  1. Early focus on users
  2. Empirical measurement using prototypes
  3. Iterative design

Goult and Lewis explicitly differentiate between understanding potential users, versus identifying/describing/stereotyping/ascertaining them. They also strike a crucial cord regarding the neccesity to separate the role of designers and developers for a simple reason: It is cognitively impossible for developers (and other stakeholders) to pretend to be a novice user. I wrote a separate blog post that proves this to you with an amusing example.

Gould and Lewis recommend that potential users become part of the design team from the very outset. Next to that, they emphasize the importance of iteration, a process that enables cycles of designing > testing > measuring > redesigning >. Wallach and Scholz [2] describe a more contemporary cycle of design activities, consisting of Scope > Analyse > Design > Validate > Deliver.


Next: User Centered Design Activities.

[1] Gould J.D, Lewis C, (1985) Designing for usability: Key principles and what designers think. Communications of the ACM, 28(3), 300-311

[2] Wallach D, Scholz S.C, (2012) User-Centered Design: Why and How to Put Users First in Software Development. Software for People, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-31371-4_2

3 thoughts on “Old School Usability Design: Gould and Lewis

  1. First off I would like to say excellent blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out. I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thank you!

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