From the human perspective in this paper, the principle purpose in studying and comprehending the many human-technology interactions is to ensure that the system is designed to support the user, minimize error and promote productivity and performance gains (Dicks, 2002). Hence, the stance taken is to design systems with the focus primarily on the user; changes and modifications being made wherever possible to the technology in order to harmonize interactions.
This approach has been described as User-centered design (Abras, 2003), and is often depicted graphically with the human at the center of a series of ever-increasing circles. This diagrammatic representation has a number of important features: (i) It places the human in the centre of a design process (ii) It indicates that you cannot consider human-computer interaction on its own; it must extend to encompass the many other influences on HCI, namely, the workplace, the environment and the organization; (iii) It demonstrates the need for a generic term to cover computers and technology.
Dix, Finlay, Abowd, and Beale, (1997) pursued the precise meaning of user-centered design in an interesting debate about whether this type of design was primarily for the users or by the users. Design by users, for example using the opinions and expectations as the basis for design, is problematic for a number of reasons (Gould, and Lewis, 1985). For example, users may not be aware of alternatives to current technology, and may expect the new system to be simply an improved version of the old one. Users may not be able to step back from their work practices to see how technology can change the way they work, and/or they might not be familiar with the design methods used or the technology, and may simply feel over-awed by the design process (Lazar, 2001).
In conclusion, we need to understand that design for users can have a number of interpretations. It might mean design for the capabilities of the users, or design of the work that the definition of the user-centered design can change during the design process, from soliciting user opinion, to designing to accommodate work activities, to designing to accommodate the capabilities of people who are going to use the system.
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