Why user-centered design is not enough, by John Wood

John Wood, Emeritus Professor of Design at Goldsmiths, University of London, argues on Core77 that the user-centered mindset is based on a one-dimensional map in which only two places exist—master and servant. In the workplace, the designer is the servant and the client is the master. From a greater distance, the user is the master and the ‘client plus designer’ is the servant.

“The idea of user-centered design grew out of ‘humanism’, which can be traced to ancient Greece and the early Christians, who came to value the differences between individuals. However, while humanism has many admirable qualities, it is a dangerously incomplete basis from which understand things. […]

We have designed ourselves into a bubble of self-satisfaction. ‘Solipsism’ is a good word for it. It reminds us of the old story of Narcissus, who was became obsessively absorbed by his own reflection in the lake and failed to notice that a beautiful girl was trying to get his attention.”

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