User centered design and task centered design.
The idea of this post comes from the over used term "user centered design" that I keep seeing everywhere. I was listening the other day this video :
where in a part of it, he points at the idea that designers are focussing on the wrong technique.
When I heard it, it came to my mind various ideas, like, "well, minimalistic design is then right." " flat design answers a problems we ignore or avoid to see" "it´s not all about their likes, and tastes, and colors... it´s about more technical aspects that people still want to ignore."
User centered design is the term of a discipline that focuses not on the user needs, but on the user wants, on their environment, on their likes, on their tastes, etc.
Task centered design is the sibling term who worries about the task the user is going to do, which prioritizes the physical and mind work the user is going to put on this, and thins one or ten steps ahead to avoid useless tasks, and make hard tasks easy, in order for the user to have an easy and positive experience.
why the is winning over the other
The only fact we use more a "user centered approach" is because of two points, I believe, first, because it sounds better, second, because if it sounds better we are more likely to get a job ;).
The funny point in all this story, is that even though we sell this term so highly this days as a skill, many techniques involved in it, suggest a task centered design.
why the other should be more important
My believe in all this, is that we shouldn't stop using a user centered design, indeed we should keep this good move web design made.
We should be more assertive.
We should call each thing for its name
Every project takes a good part of task centered design if it´s well done, and this happens on design on any discipline, not only web, it takes the time to study not only the environment and tastes of the user the project will focus on. But also, and very important, how they interact with the media, how they are involved in it, what they expect, etc..
and to finish with..
Then on an analytical thinking how can you think ten times ahead the user and improve that flow no matter if it´s used in Canada, South Africa, or China, and once you have it worked out, and tested. Then, and only then, start applying what you learnt about the target you studied and sell it.. sell it to different genders, ages, cultures.. modify it, but sell good work.
It's like the story of a glass.
A glass is the same in America, Europe and Asia, right? Then you have lots of designs on them, patterns, shapes.. but the task it does, it does it the same way and perfectly successfully everywhere, that is because analytically speaking this object answers the task needs any human could ask from.
The designers of today, due to the young age of web design profession, are the creators of the profession for tomorrow. They should have no fear to set strong analytical bases for everyone to respect. If something is so good it can´t be ignored, it definitely gains it´s respect.