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Product Developers’ Relations to their Users: an Interview Study
KTH, Superseded Departments, Machine Design. (Integrated product development)
2004 (English)In: PROCEEDINGS OF NORDDESIGN 2004: PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT IN CHANGING ENVIRONMENT / [ed] Lehtonen, T, TAMPERE: TAMPERE UNIV TECH PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT LABORATORY , 2004, 278-288 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this interview study is to investigate how people involved in product development communicate and work with the users. Four companies from two different branches have been investigated, in order to investigate differences. Two of the companies develop hand tools for professional use and the other two develop durable consumer products. Three people from each company have been interviewed: a design engineer, a market representative or a market manager and a product development manager. The result shows that none of the investigated companies have a defined and documented procedure for describing their intended end users. The two companies that develop consumer products have descriptions of their market segment. The companies that develop hand tools for professional use are more directed to the end user than for example the sales companies and its product developers have a closer direct contact with the users than the developers of consumer products. For the developers of the consumer products it is instead more vital that they also consider the distributors and sellers. The knowledge and use of product development methods for consideration of user aspects, is rather low. None of the companies use formal methods to analyse and generate new ideas about the user or the use situation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
TAMPERE: TAMPERE UNIV TECH PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT LABORATORY , 2004. 278-288 p.
Keyword [en]
consumer, interview study, product development methods, user involvement
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-5050ISI: 000252984000030ISBN: 978-952-15-1227-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-5050DiVA: diva2:7711
Conference
5th Biannual NordDesign 2004 Conference. Tampere Univ Technol, Tampere, FINLAND. AUG 18-20, 2004
Note
QC 20100618 QC 20111102Available from: 2005-04-25 Created: 2005-04-25 Last updated: 2012-02-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. User Consideration in Early Stages of Product Development: Theories and Methods
Open this publication in new window or tab >>User Consideration in Early Stages of Product Development: Theories and Methods
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Traditional design theories have focused on technical functions and more or less disregard a product’s user involvement. The existing methods of ergonomic designare mostly intended for analysis activities. There is a need for new dynamic methods that focus on user-product interactions. The aim of this research work is to develop design methods for user-product interactions, which should support synthesis activities in early product development phases.

An observation study and a questionnaire survey were carried out in order to investigate product developers’ work and relation to the users for providing background information about the research problem. Furthermore, student projects in product development were followed, giving essential input. After the theories and

methods were developed, a retrospective interview study was carried out in order to confirm the need for the developed methods. The studies showed, for instance, that companies use few formal methods and almost none of these are directed towards the user. It is also indicated that the product developers’ contact with users decreases with increasing company size. Few companies have a defined procedure for defining their intended users.

Six methods are developed. They embrace three ways of classifying the users and their relations to products and other users (User identification, Use profile and User relations), an analysis of the users’ Activities, goals and motives behind their use of the product, a scenario technique (User-technical process scenario, UTPS), which shows the user process in parallel with the technical process, and a hierarchical decomposition of technical functions and user actions, which is named the Functionaction tree (FAT).

All the methods, apart from FAT, were tested in real product development teams. All the tested methods stimulate communication between the group members of various competencies in the design group. Most of the methods are easy to apply and are valuable for understanding the design problem. The UTPS is also useful for comparing design solutions and generates new ideas about the design task. The other

tested methods did not generate many new ideas, but the reason is probably that they were mainly tested on products that are already on the market. Thus, the methods are most valuable in the early design stages, when trying out a product idea or a concept.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2005
Series
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2005:08
Keyword
Engineering design, Man-machine interaction, product development method, scenario technique, technical process, user, Konstruktionsteknik
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-174 (URN)
Public defence
2005-04-29, Salongen, KTHB, Osquars backe 31, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100618Available from: 2005-04-25 Created: 2005-04-25 Last updated: 2010-07-15Bibliographically approved

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