Class of Week 6: Scenarios and User Behavior

The readings of this class illustrated the importance of scenarios – understanding, analyzing and synthesizing. The chapter we read is important for any product designer who is having problem in defining the problem statement. The iterative steps that are taken to get closer to understand the real requirements of the user makes it helpful for a design success. Designing a product right for a user who is not really sure of how the present product could be made better is a difficult process. This iterative approach especially in identifying the key components required for a product when it’s really not mentioned in the initial user requirements is a critical identification step. This would help is saving a lot of time during the actual design phase.

At least I’m one of those people who would be interested to start with the design as soon as possible. But this analysis illustrates the importance of what needs to be done before even starting to design to save time and cost. The paper we read is important for any designers who in general would trivialize situation based analysis for designing. The important of scenarios is illustrated in detail. Professionals who are good in analysis and then synthesizing the points should benefit from some of the key points discussed in this paper.

For example, the need to be concrete yet flexible and how to handle external factors should help those who are yet vague with their end goal. Technology changes with time and it has been always changing so far. It makes this technology based design field very uncomfortable for professionals in order to be experts. Understanding the boundaries and the underlying principles for such situations would give more confidence and a reason to believe they are indeed experts of this field. I think this study helps in considering this field as a reliable profession.

This week’s class had probably one of the most interactive discussion.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works” – Steve Jobs

was the important quote of the class. But I think the quote, “Design Principle: Define what the product will do before you design how the product will do it.” that we learnt from Spencer Edwards impressed the class more. So the argument of the class went on the lines of the workflow of the product and how important it is for it to meet the user’s behavior.

A product that has a price tag needs to meet return of investment requirements. To meet that requirement there is need to design the product for the users of the product. When one says user, then the user behavior is the most important criteria. The beauty of the product is important only to compete with equally good products. Rather, it can be seen as something that needs to be within the workflow of the product if possible.

It’s unfortunate that many businessman invest on a product when they are confident that many people would like it. Sometimes, their vision is wrong thus their business is a failure when they don’t meet the return of investment requirement. To avoid this there is need to research even on the product design.
Normal users may be called as those who fit in the majority area of the normalization curve called the Bell curve or the Gaussian curve. So when we design for the majority, it becomes easy to take a survey. Interviewing 6 people is taken as a realistic requirement for surveys while 12-20 is seen idealistic.

Understanding user behavior and designing for that is probably the most important design principle of all principles. This is better than the old way of designing by engineers. That is, first make the product right, then apply all beautification to enhance the design. Perhaps the best way to describe such a design is that the product is designed for the merits of the product than the user who would be using it. My instructor, in particular, seems to dislike the traditional way how engineers design products. I seem to be representing engineers in the whole class and I seem to be getting all her dislikes for engineers. That’s making me feel the need to be more responsible while designing and it’s making me like the class more. I don’t think engineers learn about user behavior in their school. Scientific knowledge lags design application. So I don’t blame the schooled engineers. I hope to consider user behavior in all my projects in the right way. Scenario analysis becomes very important for it. It would show case the situations where the design could fail. Thus, would help in better goal based design.


One comment on “Class of Week 6: Scenarios and User Behavior

  1. Mihaela
    October 1, 2013

    Hi S., I think the 2 quotes mentioned above, one from Jobs, the other from Cooper (pulled out by Spencer) say the same thing, which is basically, do not do what you call the engineering approach: “first make the product right, then apply all beautification to enhance the design.”

    Now, the type of design thinking I teach is actually quite popular in engineering and there are many engineering scholars who write about it and many engineers who practice it (see Maybe you have not happened to come across it yet in your engineering studies. I do not dislike engineers, engineering, or engineering thinking. Not at all! In fact, this course is very much related to engineering thinking – but maybe a more modern type of thinking than you have been exposed to so far.

    I know it is a big leap to think so very differently than you have so far. I know it’s difficult, and I know people (very much engineers) who have taken this course, work very closely with me on DIA2, really appreciate design thinking and are knowledgeable about it, but still have trouble doing it themselves. I think it is difficult to be able to think from all points of view at the same time. Maybe in your future you will be a consumer of user research. You won’t do it and write it, but you will read the reports that others give you and use it to inform your designs. What I am asking is that you make an effort to make that leap and change points of view for the duration of this class, at least. This is why I have been pushing you, and I am beginning to see good progress – congratulations! 🙂

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This entry was posted on September 29, 2013 by in Home, Reading/Class Reflections.
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