The Backlash: "User-Led Innovation Can't Create Breakthroughs" Syndicate content

Hello fellow researchers,

as the idea of user centered design has become mainstream it is high time for a backlash. It's here: "User-Led Innovation Can't Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and Ikea" (fastcodesign.com) where Jens Martin Skibsted concludes: "User-led design leads to sameness".

Concerns about user research and innovation are not new – the problem of transferability from descriptive accounts of user behavior to new designs has been discussed. But a change of sides tends to forget the the mutual shaping of design and use – as e.g. described by the task-artifact cycle (Carroll, Kellog & Rosson 1991). Users do play a role in every (re)design, don't they?

What do you think – have we done enough user research? Is it just academic and anti-innovative?

Carroll, J. M., Kellog, W. A. & Rosson, M. B. (1991). The task-artifact cycle. In J. M. Carroll (Ed.), Designing interaction: psychology at the human-computer interface (pp. 74-102). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

sometimes we have, somtimes not

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You are right, designers don't live in a social void and often their design ideas may come from social and self experience. Indeed the potential of structured user research (ethnographic studies, interviews, etc.) for early idea and concept design is increasingly doubted (rightly, I would say). As far as I remember, the authors of the article you reference misunderstand ideation and user feedback, which both has its place in product development processes. But one should know when to use which instrument. They got that wrong. However, there has been a nice response to the article you quote which comprises this and some good points: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663453/innovation-always-starts-with-empath.... Enjoy. Best, Michael