User-Centered Design

Our instructional design project is very exciting and is developing nicely.  We each have an interest in online learning and this project coordinates perfectly with our current developing research on online faculty satisfaction and technology adoption.  My personal vision is to create a usable instructional design that can be presented and published, and adopted by a college or university for implementation.

One of the readings for this week focuses on user-centered design, one of my research interests.  User-centered design can be applied to many areas and is a method I have been utilizing for years in system design and website design.  Applying this to instruction design has the same focus: serving the needs of the users.  A user-centered design is based upon the principle that user needs should inform the processes of system design (Pang & Schauder, 2007).  Pang and Schauder (2007) continue the discussion on this method by explaining how poor relationships between users and computer scientists arose and a gap was created because of the lack of understanding of user need (Pang & Schauder, 2007, p. 206).  “The resulting technological condition of society was that human beings must adapt to technology, rather than vice versa” (Pang & Schauder, 2007, p. 206).  Whether in system, website, or instructional design it is easy to see how this condition could negatively affect the user.

The first step in this process is identifying the target audience or users.  User-centered design utilizes a combination of methods to understand users from interviews to focus groups.  Once identified, their needs and expectations must be clearly defined (Comeaux, 2008). Usability testing is the next step that utilizes a formal testing of the interface, site, or prototype.  The testing process is important to determine if the needs and expectations are met (Comeaux, 2008).

Baek, Cagiltay, Boling, and Frick (n.d.) believe that the adoption of user-centered design into instructional system design is fundamental for serving the users’ needs.  Our challenge, as instructional designers, is developing a product or project that supports learning and performance but also generates user satisfaction. This discussion comes a perfect time in our project.  There is a process to creating user-centered design, which goes deeper than simply considering the user in the various stages of design.

Baek, E.O., Cagiltay, K., Boling, E., & Frick, T. (n.d.) User-centered design and development.

Comeaux, D. J. (2008). Usability studies and user-centered design in digital libraries. Journal of Web Librarianship, 2(2/3), 457-475. doi:10.1080/19322900802190696

Pang, N., & Schauder, D. (2007). The culture of information systems in knowledge-creating contexts: The role of user-centered design. Informing Science Journal, 10, 203-235. Retrieved from

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