Me, Laggard

You heard about reactions to mobile phones in 1973? How hilarious that people objected to a piece of technology that has proven to be so useful and effective. We all like to think of ourselves as early adopters. But I am definitely a laggard in some ways. Just as it took me 3 years to get used to skinny jeans, I don’t think the first prototype version of Google Glass is for me just yet. For the last couple of weeks, it Continue reading


Awareness of the Need for User Experience Design

I just stumbled across this great piece from 1994 by usability guru Jacob Nielsen: Guerrilla HCI: Using Discount Usability Engineering to Penetrate the Intimidation Barrier. Bar some words that have gone out of fashion, the piece is still incredibly relevant today. A great insight was this list of the awareness-levels of software development companies about user experience.


  1. Usability does not matter. The main focus is to wring every last bit of performance from the iron. This is the attitude leading to the world-famous error message, “beep.”
  2. Usability is important, but good interfaces can surely be designed by the regular development staff as part of their general system design. This attitude is symbolized by the famous statement made by King Frederik VI of Denmark on February 26, 1835: “We alone know what serves the true welfare and benefit of the State and People.” At this stage, no attempt is made at user testing or at acquiring staff with usability expertise.
  3. The desire to have the interface blessed by the magic wand of a usability engineer. Developers recognize that they may not know everything about usability, so they call in a usability specialist to look over their design and comment on it. The involvement of the usability specialist is often too late to do much good in the project, and the usability specialist often has to provide advice on the interface without the benefit of access to real users. Continue reading

Depository of Existing Design Toolboxes

A collection of toolboxes with user research methods to inform and inspire the development of a new toolbox for Inclusive Design.

Designing With People: a very complete toolkit developed at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and RCA. The method section is based on the IDEO cards. It has a focus on people with sensory, physical or cognitive impairments.


  • Clear structure and overview of contents
  • Very complete: example personas, contexts and projects, user research methods, guidelines about user groups, and a guide on ethics.
  • Literature references are given
  • Comfortable balance between amount of pictures and text
  • There are tips for choosing the right methods, but no selection is made for you

See more toolboxes >>>. Continue reading

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.

UCD_cycle Continue reading