Activity-Centered Design: An Ecological Approach to Designing Smart Tools and Usable Systems

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In the same way, IAs run the risk of confusing the persona as a design tool for the actual users it represents.

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But, unlike participatory design methods that enlist those who will be using a particular design as participants within this process, personas are controllable simulations that can be invoked to reduce conflict or win certain political disputes within the design team.

Both approaches, however, stand in contrast to participatory methods that acknowledge the role users play in co-construction of the design. While we might expect IA discourse to embrace and encourage participa- tory design approaches, I argue that these methods remain underutilized. More sur- prisingly is the fact that IA discourse continues to reinscribe many of the tropes traditionally associated with user-centered and systems-centered design, both of which implicitly marginalize the individuals interacting with technological devices.

A possi- ble explanation for this may be the longer-term history of UCD methods, which increases their visibility and perceived acceptance over more non-traditional participa- tory design approaches. Whatever the reason, user needs remain central concerns within the design process, but incorporating actual users in the design process still remains relatively uncommon.

At the same time, the increasingly embedded nature of technology into our everyday lives McCullough, and advances beyond Web 2. Thus, larger numbers of designers may become willing to embrace approaches like participatory design. While including users as co-designers during the design process may remain a relatively innovative practice, it is likely that this approach may become more appealing to new media designers as they realize the limitations of strictly user- centered design approaches.

The professional practice of interactive design deserves more attention from new media and communication scholars. While we have often focused on the social and cultural impacts of technological artifacts, we have remained relatively silent as to the ways in which professional practices and organizational behaviors shape these products. In addition, case studies and explorations of the lived experiences of information architects and interaction designers are vital if we seek to fully understand the complex relationship between users and designers.

Many thanks to the anonymous reviewers whose comments on earlier drafts helped improve this piece. References Baudrillard, J. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Bennett, A. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Bijker, W.

Innovation of Products & Services: MIT's Approach to Design Thinking

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Activity-Centered Design: An Ecological Approach to Designing Smart Tools and Usable Systems

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    UCD states that technology should always adapt to users; users should not have to adapt to technology. ACD recognizes that humans do, indeed, adapt to technology. Take the invention of the clock — the mechanized measurement and tracking of time changed almost everything about how we approach our days. We absolutely adapt to technology as another element in our environment. UCD focuses solely on the participants primarily the direct users and the individual tasks, while ACD considers these components of a larger context that supports the fulfillment of the needs of people — needs much more complex than simply successfully completing a use case.

    Tools, rules, other participants in related tasks… all of these are part of the context that UCD often leaves out of the picture.

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    So as designers, should we abandon our UCD practices? Certainly not, but we have to start considering them in a broader context. This is already happening in the field of Service Design. Customer journey maps take into account multiple tasks in various combinations, with multiple touchpoints represented, often over a long period of time and multiple contacts. Ecosystem Models represent the context of various systems, tools, processes controlled and otherwise , and rules that make up the context of an activity. They are great lenses through which to view activities in context.

    Annotated Bibliography Bannon, L. Stephanidis Ed. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum. July , PhD these, University of Glasgow. Cambridge, Mass. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning , 22,. Hall, T.