Human centred design considered harmful

In the 1990’s, I worked as a programmer and a software developer. Back then, using computer software was quite difficult for the layperson. I moved into the field of interaction design and learned about usability in the 2000’s. It was a revelation: we could no longer blame the user for everything that went wrong with software – the blame now lay squarely with us, the ones who made the software.

The disciplines of usability and interaction design, along with several others, have since evolved into a field we now tend to call User Experience. We follow an approach called Human Centred Design, which involves ‘the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process’.

I have spent nearly a decade and a half working in this field and have always held a strong belief that design should be human centred.

Lately, I have been having some doubts. Let me explain.

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Should UX designers have portfolios?

Person sitting in a cafe with a laptop
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

This point was raised in a recent Slack conversation where we discussed whether UX designers should have portfolios:

When talking about recruiting for UX and asked about portfolios, the speaker said “all that tells me is that you are a UI designer who thinks they know about UX”

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Presentation: Usability testing – Just Do It. Five methods for improving usability in-house

I recently gave an introductory lecture on usability testing to an audience of project and program managers, each in charge of their own team’s online and mobile projects. The lecture was based on these three observations I’ve made in my past work:

  1. All web projects can benefit from usability testing
  2. Most web projects don’t include usability testing, often due to cost or schedule
  3. Basic usability testing is really not that difficult and most professionals can learn how to do it.

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