Anyone familiar with usability testing and user-centered design won't find anything too new in this article, but I get the sense that those of us designing educational software and sites need to keep these issues in focus. It's all too easy to believe that we know enough about how people will use our designs, and that users will be able to figure it out.
"Cooped up in high-tech design labs, surrounded by the latest in computing gadgetry and soft drink machines, the men and women who design the world's most important devices -- from medical equipment, airplane cockpits and nuclear plant control rooms to more mundane gizmos like cellphones and VCRs -- give little thought to the people who will use their creations, Vicente says."One step beyond giving thought to the people who will use our stuff is to actually test it, get real feedback and integrate it into the designs. Even the most skilled and empathetic designers tend to be surprised when they see how difficult it is for real people to use their creations.