Defence of doctoral thesis in the field of Design, M.Sc.(Tech) Kaisa Savolainen
Title of the doctoral thesis: Human-Centred Design When Direct Contact with Users Is Not Possible
Opponent: Docent Prof. Netta Iivari, University of Oulu
Custos: Professor Sampsa Hyysalo, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Design
Defence is held remotely via Zoom: https://aalto.zoom.us/j/68832036074
Zoom Quick Guide: https://www.aalto.fi/en/services/zoom-quick-guide
The dissertation is publicly displayed online 10 days before the defence at: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/doc_public/eonly/riiputus/
More information on the thesis:
This research has focused on whether human-centred design (HCD) can be practised without direct contact to users and if so, what are the practices applied.
The key finding was that HCD-mature companies have versatile ways of applying user knowledge although seemingly user involvement does not occur.
Although user input has been proven to have positive effects on the success of new innovations, there are situations when organisations cannot contact the users during product or service development. These are usually due to lack of resources (time and money) or confidentiality issues. In addition, at times the user group is such that it cannot be contacted. Thus, studying how HCD-mature companies manage when they cannot contact the users directly can provide insights on how to overcome these challenges and still run a successful HCD project. This research was conducted through a longitudinal case study in a Finnish industrial company that has been a forerunner in utilising HCD. The data gathering took place during 2014 – 2018.
This research has discovered that HCD can be practised responsibly even without direct contact with users in organisations that are mature in HCD and that these organisations apply several practices during the process. The main factor that aided the organisation in this research case was the utilisation of user knowledge that had been accumulated during previous projects and earlier contacts with users. This is a factor that has often been overlooked in research. Furthermore, organisations might not realise what type of user knowledge they have gathered, with what kind of practices and how it has actually been applied. This thesis applies the ecologies of user knowledge mapping to support in understanding the complete picture of accumulated user knowledge. In addition, the company utilised a variety of user representations that were derived from various sources.
Furthermore, this research provides guidelines for practicing HCD when direct contact with users is not possible. These guidelines are likely useful in broader usage as well, as involving users requires resources and these also aid in directing the user involvement activities.
Finally, this research has been conducted in the intersection of several fields: HCD, design and innovation management, and science and technology studies. As such, it has highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary research and research between different fields.
More information: Kaisa Savolainen, [email protected], tel.+358 50 310 1457