User-centered design and vision-driven design
In a UXMAtters article called "Designing Breakthrough Products: Going Where No User Has Gone Before", George Olsen explains how user-centered design (UCD) is of interest to new-product projects but often failed when designing breakthrough products. Some excerpts about this topic I found relevant:
When it comes to matters of aesthetics and fashion, UCD techniques offer little assistance. They can’t tell you how people will respond to products they’ve never seen before, products people have difficulty imagining [examples quoted: the internet, many examples of Web sites] (...) These were cases where the power of the designers’ vision created the demand, showing vision-driven design is sometimes the right approach. In such cases, the role of UCD is to help better the odds that a particular idea will resonate with a product’s target market and screen out those ideas that won’t. (...) UCD techniques have focused more on how to approach projects for which the problem space is fairly well understood—both by UX designers and by users. UCD techniques are best at helping us determine how to solve such problems—which is not to downplay the challenges of those sorts of projects. However, the situation is different for breakthrough products, where potential users often have difficulty imagining a solution to a problem. UCD techniques have some role to play, but often these sorts of projects require UX designers to make decisions more on the basis of their conceptual modeling skills and design experience than on direct user feedback.
And the continues by giving some meaningful advices to use UCD:
Show users something that’s technologically cool, and they’re likely to say they’d use it, even if they really wouldn’t. So, rather than asking users whether they’d use a product, it’s far better to ask them how they’d use it in their everyday lives. (...) When users can’t provide what seem to be realistic answers when asked how they might use a product, that’s a serious red flag. (...) During usability tests, it’s useful to ask people to describe your product “as if they were telling a friend about it”—not only to see whether they understand the product concept, but also to learn about bridging concepts that you can use to get people interested in using the product, even if they don’t fully grasp its potential. (...) as you’re gathering user feedback about a digital product, be sensitive to ways in which people might misunderstand or “misuse” what you’re building (...) While user-centered design normally warns us against designing for early adopters and power users, these are exactly the people whose needs you want to meet when developing a breakthrough product
Why do I blog this? because it gives some pertinent ideas that I could use in various projects regarding projects I have. Besides, the debate between UCD and vision-driven design is a recurrent discussion I have with colleagues, and I am trying to figure out where should I use UCD and when not...