A user-centered design approach for ICT4D

The current issue of the I4D magazine features an article on a user-centered design project in a rural community in Southeast Kenya. The project’s goal was to develop an innovative community radio system to mediate and support participation in women’s Self-Help Groups. In the article the authors describe two specfific scenarios, where the involvement of the women in the design process led to better solutions than the ones that were initially envisioned by the engineers. This is a well-established fact in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research, however the authors state their understanding of user-centered design (UCD) in the context of ICT4D goes beyond the traditional participatory design approach.

Based on their experience they formulated a set of suggestions and recommendations for UCD in developing countries. The following list shows a summary of their findings:

  • Follow potential users throughout their day
  • Participate in daily activities
  • Verify every observation by asking other users
  • Discuss prototypes together with the users
  • Play with the technology in context rather than organizing structured training
  • Wait until users developed an understanding of or familarity with the technology
  • Act upon the results collected and lessons learned

Details can be found in the article (pages 49-51).

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A user-centered design approach for ICT4D
was published on 13.08.2008 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under global
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