Goal-centered user description

Posted: October 8, 2010 in Food for thought, User-centered design examples
Tags: , , , ,

If you recall (and I hope you do) our readings from the Cooper book and our class discussion of personnae, you’ll remember that this framework for understanding users begins with very general personal goal that are not directly linked to a task or activity. It may be a bit difficult to see the connection between those general goals and interface design, but here is a wonderful example:

I am sitting in a meeting about nanoHUB, and a physics professor tells us over lunch about some physics demos that he likes to use to help freshmen understand concepts. When asked what his criteria are for choosing those tools, he simply states:

“I want them to make me look good as a teacher.”

Then he goes on to tell us how the explanations have to be simple and clear, so that freshmen get the concept. They have to look neat, but not be burdened with unnecessary, complicated information or bells & whistles.

I had to tell you about this story, because it’s a really neat example, I think, of:

  1. the value of understanding user goals at the general level, as Cooper argues;
  2. the direct link between general user goals and interface features.
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