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Title: Supporting people-centred design through information and empathy
Author: McGinley, Christopher Gerard
ISNI:       0000 0004 2738 4112
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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People-centred design is a design approach that takes the intended end users into consideration throughout the development process, resulting in more appropriate design output in terms of meeting peoples needs and wants. There is recognised value in the use of user-based information, and in establishing empathy with those being designed for, yet there is a distinct lack of literature addressing both aspects and the potential for associated support mechanisms for designers. The combination of information and empathy is the focus of this research. This thesis presents studies carried out to investigate the potential for ‘supporting people-centred design through information and empathy’, focusing upon the early stages of design development. The main aims of this research were to understand designers’ processes and where users fit into these, and to suggest means of support that could promote user focus whilst remaining a practical and appropriate complement to established methods. The under-explored nature of this area required empirical research engaging in practical ways with designers, which was achieved through in-depth probe studies and follow-up interviews with 10 designers; active participation in two four-month real-life design projects; the examination and co-creation of resource tool concepts during two workshops, each with 20 design participants; and ‘MHIRROR’ (Means of Human Information Retrieval, Representation, Organisation and Reflection), a mixed media human information resource was developed and trialed with six experienced inclusive design practitioners. These qualitative explorations with designers and within real-life projects facilitated understanding of the potential for human information resources to support the design process. The thesis has made original contribution to knowledge in terms of the formation of a framework for the manipulation and integration of human information into the design process; the iterative design and embodiment of a working prototype resource MHIRROR, and it has provided insights into the value of information and empathy resource combinations and their potential to promote people-centred design.
Supervisor: Dong, H. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Design ethnography ; Practice-based ; Information, insight & inspiration ; Representation, retrieval, organisation & reflection