Our February 2020 issue starts with an essay from Gilbert Cockton, “Usability Diverges Media Converges, Design Remerges.” In the essay, he provides a historical perspective on relationships between UX design and other design traditions and approaches, including design theory, creative design practice, design thinking, agile, and service design. In addition to the essay, this issue includes three research papers: one on service design assumptions, one on think-aloud practices, and one on user research methods. The first article is “Image of the Human in Service Design: An Interview-Based Case- Study,” by Eemeli Hakoköngäs and Anna Asiala. The study focuses on underlying assumptions guiding the work of service designers. The authors recommend that reflection on underlying conceptions should be part of the design process and the training of service designers.
The second article is “Practices and Challenges of Using Think-Aloud Protocols in Industry: An International Survey,” by Mingming Fan, Serina Shi, and Khai Truong. They conducted an international survey with UX professionals, finding that concurrent think-aloud protocols are widely used in usability testing, often with significant interaction with participants, forcing them to deal with a tension between validity and efficiency.
In the third article, “Cumulative and Combined: Analyzing Methods Use in a Human-Centered Design Mature Company,” Kaisa Savolainen and Sampsa Hyysalo present a longitudinal case study based on interviews, meeting observations, and company documentation at a company with a high degree of maturity in human-centered design. They found that designers sometimes draw information from previous studies and other sources of user insight rather than conducting new research, thus documenting ways practitioners in larger companies combine user insight methods and cumulate knowledge.