Instrumenting the user: Needfinding by combining data logging and immediate self-reporting

DS 75-7: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Design for Harmonies, Vol.7: Human Behaviour in Design, Seoul, Korea, 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Aldaz, Gabriel; Steinert, Martin; Leifer, Larry J.
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Stanford University, United States of America; 2: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Page(s): 417-426
ISBN: 978-1-904670-50-6
ISSN:  2220-4334


This paper proposes a quantitative exploration and evaluation method for needfinding that may be used in situations where the classical quantitative methods – interviews and direct observation – may not be effective on their own. “Instrumenting the user” combines sensor data logging with periodic, immediate self-reports. The purpose of instrumenting the user is to enable the longitudinal collection and subsequent analysis of data that will aid in the identification of needs that are not apparent to the designer based on prior experience, talking to users, or observing them. When used to generate hypotheses, this quantitative approach retains the open-ended, non-standardized aspects of qualitative methods. A case study from the hearing aid industry illustrates an implementation of the method and explains how instrumenting the user can yield unexpected insights.

Keywords: Design methods, user centred design, human behaviour in design, needfinding, user needs


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