User-centered Design

Course reflection

The course User-Centered Design was about designing with users in mind. During the course, we used the Book ‘Interaction Design’ as a clear guideline. We worked in groups to put the theories given to us during the lectures into practice. The design case we worked on was to make a product that combined the advantages of cash and electronic payment. For the case, we choose the user group of children from eight to twelve years old.

For the course User-Centered Design my expectations were positive, and I expected it would be one of the more interesting courses of my studies. As the name suggests I expected the course would be about Designing for users. You see quite a lot of products that are clearly not designed with users in mind, and this course would tackle that problem so that we will become designers that can design usable products.
The most interesting to me seemed to learn how to involve users in the design process, and how to get useful information from users that can significantly improve the final design.
I had enjoined the course From Idea to Design very much, and I hoped end expected this course would feature a similar design case. I hoped it would give us the freedom to explore the idea of user involvement to teach us how to use it in the future.

I did not know any of my group members before, and I think because of that we were off to a bit of a rough start. The first time we met was the Thursday of the second week, this was the day of the weekly presentation. It took a while for us to get comfortable working together, but in the end, we formed a decently functioning group.
During the whole course, the assignments have been rather vague, and it was hard to see the link between all the different assignments, and even weeks. Sometimes it looked like we were doing something entirely different every week. This didn’t help much with motivation for the course, and it didn't help our collaboration either. For me, it sometimes felt if we were four individuals coming together to work on the same assignments.

The way the course is structured it does not encourage collaboration, and elaborating on each other's work. For me, this contrast was painfully clear, because in my other group this quartile we collaborated very well. One of the advantages of working in a group is that you can use each member's expertise so that together you can accomplish something you would not have been able to on your own.

Because of the way this course is structured it does not stimulate groups to reach their full potential. The tight schedule, and clear assignments every week made that I did not enjoy this course as much as I had hoped. I do understand that we are beginning designers and that we have a lot to learn, but taking away most of the freedom seems a bit odd for a study that should teach an open-minded approach. This course was the opposite, everything was based on structure and methods. The upside of this is that I clearly showed me what type of designer I want, or don’t want, to be.