Combining rich user interaction with the personas technique in a student user experience design project

DS 76: Proceedings of E&PDE 2013, the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin, Ireland, 05-06.09.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Corremans, Jan A.M.; Standaert, Achiel
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Artesis University College Antwerp, Belgium
Section: Design Education in Industry
Page(s): 216-221
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


User-product interaction has evolved dramatically over the past decades and has been the subject of many research activities. In an era where electrical components are replaced by electronic ones, and where functional elements become so small that they can be built into almost everything, designers acquire an enormous freedom in shaping new products. Especially in the field of consumer goods, where designers integrate function, human-factors and aesthetics, this newly gained freedom offers numerous opportunities to design innovative products and interfaces.
This paper reports on a design course of 3rd bachelor students product development of the Artesis University College Antwerp in collaboration with the company Niko, a Belgium based company that delivers products and solutions for switching materials, door communication systems, lighting control and home automation systems. The design course ‘user experience design’ is an ideal context for students to gain insight in new interaction viewpoints such as ‘rich user interfaces’ and tangible interaction. It allows students to create design solutions that fit this young and emerging design philosophy. The design brief was presented by Niko as a kind of research by design approach: “rethink our digital remote LED strip control devices by researching new intuitive interaction solutions without displays or graphical interfaces”. As a starting point, Niko introduced, by means of the persona technique, three different consumer types. The aim for Niko was not to collect short term applicable design solutions, but to get fresh and inspiring ideas from young and open-minded design students. Final design results show an interesting variety of alternative interaction solutions for the traditional remote controls. Students succeeded in designing rich user interaction hardware and haptic interfaces and proved that the overall learning goals were achieved. For the students it was interesting to see that in-house designers of a rather technologic oriented company find it essential to think conceptually. The students were happy to learn that their jobs go beyond the hands-on technical and technological problems solving activities they encounter in their daily work. From the industry perspective, Niko concluded that the collaboration with students broadened their view and confronted them with possible design directions they had not considered yet.

Keywords: Rich user interaction, design education, personas technique, user centred design


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