Brugerorienteret design i praksis: Hvordan faglighed, tilgang og arbejdsformanvendes, integreres og forankres i virksomheder

Translated title of the contribution: User-Centered design in practice: How professional competency, approach and procedure are applied, integratedand grounded in businesses

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User-Centered design in practice

How professional competency, approach and procedure are applied, integrated

and grounded in businesses.

This PhD treatise examines the application of User-Centered design as a

professional competency, approach and working method as well as its potential

integration and grounding in businesses. The motivation for the project is, firstly,

having experienced the value of User-Centered design in practice, and, secondly, by

simultaneously having experienced problems in terms of the practice and integration

of the approach in businesses. The project shows that the initial experiences are

not unique but reflect general tendencies and problem areas in connection with the

application, integration on grounding of User-Centered design in businesses. The

treatment of the problem areas thus portrays central and particular characteristics,

and it may consequently form a basis for suggested solutions to the problematic


The development of User-Centered design methodologies has been examined

with a view to understanding the professional competency, the approach and the

working method. This has also yielded an insight into the rationale behind User-

Centered design, its view of humanity and its conceptualization of problems. The

methodological investigation has thus provided a basis for an understanding of the

problems regarding the application, integration and grounding of User-Centered

design in practice.

The problems regarding the application, integration and grounding of User-

Centered design have been addressed in the context of a large Danish company,

Bang & Olufsen A/S, in which User-Centered design activities were planned and

executed in relation to projects in progress. The User-Centered design activities

are mainly based on ethnographically inspired field work in which video has been

used to register the events that occurred during the field work. The User-Centered

video footage has been applied in workshops where relevant designers, interaction

designers, programmers etc. have collaborated. The execution of the activities is

the main point of interest in the cases presented in the treatise wherefore they

have been captured on video. This video footage is measured against the research

interest motivating the project through careful interaction analyses. Theories of

Aristotle, Bourdieu, Flyvbjerg, Merleau-Ponty and Schön among others act as the

catalyst for the understanding of specific observations from the video footage. The

theoretical perspective unfolds and describes the relation between the different

working methods and rationales relative to the inter-subjective relations that exist

among the various actors.

The project shows that User-Centered design entails a particular, abductive

working method based on unlimited understanding of a given problem and a socialconstructivist

approach. During the investigation of the particulars of the User-

Centered video footage, a particular, corporal engagement in the User-Centered

designers' working method was observed. Through this corporal engagement,

User-Centered designers situate themselves within the context of the problems

pertinent to the video footage - they stay within the problem area, which calls for a

thorough and empathic understanding of its dimensions, peculiarities and points of

impact. This means that the User-Centered designers engage in dialogue with the

problem area, which has an emphatic impact in terms of progression and outcome.

Progression, however, is not solely a result of a dialogue with the problem area. It

is also characterized by the inter-subjective relationship between the participants.

Although the participants in User-Centered design activities actively strive towards

a democratic collaboration that emphasizes the processing of the problems, the

progression and the outcome are still influenced by the inter-subjective relations

among the participants - in which it is professional position, knowledge, interest

and experience that really matter. The importance of inter-subjective relations is

particularly evident when co-operating with participants that are unfamiliar with

the User-Centered working method. The work with the User-Centered material

is influenced when unaccustomed participants engage in processing the User-

Centered material as unaccustomed participants are unable to engage in the

abductive working method. They do not practice the particularities of the User-

Centered material, which is also why they do not establish a dialogue with the

problem areas to the same extent as the User-Centered designers. Instead, new

participants apply the working methods with which they are already familiar, and,

in the present context, this results in an ‘out-of-context' dialogue; this entails the

risk that the User-Centered design approach does not come into its own whereby

it loses a large portion of its immediate value and relevance.

The variety in working methods among the participants bears witness to a variety

of rationalities. The rationality behind User-Centered design is based on several

practical forms of knowledge: namely techne and phronesis. In the businesses,

however, the technical rationality has gained currency, but the approach and

the working method of this approach have not proved useful when dealing with

problems pertaining to User-Centered design. Meanwhile, proponents of the

technical rationality have found it difficult to acquire the necessary User-Centered

working method, which indicates a dilemma in terms of carrying out User-Centered

design in practice. These conditions detract from the execution of the User-Centered

approach to design and its grounding. In one of the cases dealt with in the treatise,

an experienced User-Centered designer attempts to make the User-Centered

material more tangible to the new participants by employing methods that stem

from the technical rationality and have gained a firm foothold. This means that, in

practice, experienced User-Centered designers relate to this ‘problem of rationality'

and seek to accommodate adherents of the technical rationality by creating a joint

platform for co-operation.

A successful application, integration and grounding of User-Centered design

necessitates an effort on a variety of levels, and that the various parties involved

are active participants in the collaboration. It is crucial that the working methods

of both rationalities are taken into account to an extent that active participation

from the participants is possible. The specific methods applied must, however, not

diverge from the fundamental understanding of the rationales. This necessitates

that the User-Centered designers demonstrate a certain level of methodological

knowledge, understanding of the nature of ‘problem of rationality', and a will to

accommodate proponents of the technical rationality. From new participants who

are rooted in the technical rationality this calls for an equal willingness to take a

new working method to heart and to distance themselves from the ideals of their

own rationality.

Hence, a productive future collaboration between User-Centered designers and

businesses is based on mutual recognition as well as the will and ability to embrace

other working methods, approaches and rationales.

Translated title of the contributionUser-Centered design in practice: How professional competency, approach and procedure are applied, integratedand grounded in businesses
Original languageDanish
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherInstitut for Arkitektur og Medieteknologi
Number of pages209
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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