About the Design for Usability project

Everyone knows the frustrations that arise when setting up a new television or when trying to open the new high-tech RFID chip-enabled gym locker. These frustrations lead to consumer-anger, influence a company’s financial performance and can make or break a brand. But how can designers or product developers prevent these frustrations and create usable products?

 

 

Increasing complexity of electronic products

The usability of consumer and professional electronic products has come under increasing pressure in the recent past. Products have more and more functions, are becoming smaller, and often have to work as part of a network. Think, for example, of the hard disk recorder that needs to be connected to the TV, the cable decoder and perhaps even a home-theatre system as well. To make matters worse, these products are developed under extreme time pressure, on a limited budget, and by teams that can be spread across the world.

Practical information on usability

The Design for Usability project researched how best to contribute to the development of usable products. The main goal was to develop a methodology for user-centred product development that is applicable in practice.

‘Design for Usability’ was started by the three Dutch technical universities in 2007. About 15 people collaborate in this project, of which the 5 PhD projects can be seen as the main component. This IOP IPCR project has been partially subsidized by the ministry of Economic Affairs (under supervision of NL Agency). The companies Océ, Philips, T-Xchange, Indes and Unilever are  still closely involved in the project. These companies provide information and cases from their daily practice and serve as a sounding board for the project members.