CSC 395 (Fall 2021)

Reading: Observation and Needfinding

Observations and Needfinding

In this class, we’ll take a look at the needfinding phase of human-centered design in more detail. In needfinding, we attempt to discover the true needs of our intended users. We can accomplish this via two broad categories of techniques:

There are trade-offs to the two approaches. Asking a user directly what their needs are gets to the point. However users frequently might not know what they need or are mistaken about where their true needs lie. Observations allow us to get around these difficulties, but we must be careful in our interpretations to avoid bias or presupposition about particular pain points or potential solutions.

These categories can be iterated on and combined in a multitude of ways, for example:

For next class, we’ll complete Norman’s survey of HCD by talking about the real-world factors that impact the process:

In addition, to begin exploring some of these needfinding techniques in more detail, I would like you to read a brief excerpt about contextual inquiry from the larger article about contextual design from the Encyclopedia of Human-Computing Interaction: