Increased competition of product offering has led to the need to better understand the end-user, in order to create a more appropriate product. Furthermore, the ever increasing individualistic culture has led to the need for more customised products; where a New Product Development (NPD) team has to balance user needs and wants. Initial study assumptions were that the more the user involvement the better the product outcome.
The aim was to investigate design awareness and use of User-centred Design (UCD) practices in full in the design industry in Botswana; and the training needs of the design industry in relation to UCD. Literature review determined the study focus areas; design awareness (DA), design practices (DP) and UCD. Best global practices were identified since there was little to no literature on UCD practice in Botswana and the researcher investigated products developed for the Base of the Pyramid (BoP). This study has been carried out from the NPD team s perspective.
Data collection began with the scoping study, which provided an early overview of UCD practice utilisation in NPD; it also provided a guideline to data collection in Botswana. The survey study provided a broader overview of the use of design and UCD practices within the design industry. The interviews provided a follow-up to questions arising from the survey study and are focused on the Graphic and Advertising (GA) and Furniture and Interior (FI) industries for more in-depth analysis. The case studies were conducted to better understand how specific projects were conducted in relation to UCD practices; they also provided an evaluation mechanism for findings from previous studies. The results show case study findings correlating with findings from previous studies; the lack of documentation, heavy user involvement at the start stage of the PDP followed by the end stage. The vast majority of the participants failed to obtain product needs directly from the end-user and instead used the client as a proxy for the user.
Design is viewed as an act of planning; user reaction was also viewed as the most important measure of design effectiveness. The majority of participants reported educational institutions not offering the needed skills. Two thirds of the participants did little market research; but the majority agreed user involvement in the PDP was important and that the user can effectively share ideas with the NPD team. The data was not clear as to whether, user involvement helped or hindered NPD team s creativity. The researcher s views on the user involvement in NPD have evolved to the need of an organised way for obtaining and documenting user and product needs, instead of treating the user like a co-operation partner. More case studies are expected to evolve case study questionnaire to, a tool for facilitating UCD practice use in Botswana s design industry.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.