So I went to hear Sarah Bloomer (co-founder of Hiser Group) speak at the inaugural UPA Sydney meeting last night. The topic was Expanding User-Centered Design in the 21st Century OR Why Design Thinking is The Next Big Thing.
It was interesting to see usability professionals excited about what designers have been doing for a long time. Though the division between doing user experience or usability and design doesn’t exist too much at Digital Eskimo anyway (perhaps when it is differentiated, it’s specifically based on methodology).
There weren’t any big surprises in the talk (which is a relief really since my background is in design and we are a design company), and it was reassuring to see how much of what is considered the ‘design thinking’ approach (new, inspirational, nimble, exciting, participatory, innovative and strategic) we already do at DE.
It does trigger me to comment on something that has been in the back of my mind recently though – that for usability professionals, HCI peoples and interaction designers, their/our/my history has come from the computer, from computing technology. Where as design more generally has never been constrained to this. Design has been coming to computing rather than the other way around.
Lots of the more recently introduced “design thinking” and “designerly approaches” to HCI (which are indeed exciting but not new to designers of course), are becoming popular due to HCI/UPA peoples being “released from the desktop” as computing becomes ubiquitous, mobile, pervasive, and everyday. Whereas designers have always been in the everyday. Our products have always lived in the world (although, that doesn’t directly translate to design practice always being human-centred in the way that we mean that in HCI).
I’m not sure how significant this is if all, but I think it is a pretty interesting aspect of the HCI/Design convergence thing that is happening.
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