Mark Rolston Explains the Myth of Human-Centered Design

Mark Rolston, founder and chief creative officer of argodesign, argues for a more nuanced approach to the conventional interpretation of human-centered design and the relationship between people and technology in a new piece for Fast Company.

Rolston disagrees with human-centered design expert Don Norman, who writes that technology should conform to its users, with an implicit belief that human needs are entirely pure and without bias. It’s Rolston’s view that human wants and needs are built over time and by a variety of experiences, including those experiences with technology. And technology is shaped users’ experiences.

While a good design will conform to a user’s wants, and shape those wants within the boundaries of the technology, a great design takes it a step further. A great design shapes the user’s expectations around those boundaries. For a user, an ideal experience is defined by their experience with technology.

How we self-identify and how we connect is changing based on our relationship to technology. Therefore, technology has become inseparable from who we are and what we want.

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