McDonagh-Philp, D. and Denton, H.G., 2000. User-centred design and the focus group: developing the student designer's empathic horizons. IN: Kimbell, R. (ed.). Design and Technology International Millennium Conference. Wellesbourne : The D&T Association, pp. 111-116.
User-centred design is now established as an important aspect of design training. This approach
employs the centrality of the user both as resource and focus for design. Developing this the authors
put forward the concept of an individual designer’s empathic horizon (McDonagh-Philp and Denton,
1999). This can be defined as the individual’s range of understanding and empathy for user
experiences in different contexts. It is suggested that the further a designer can develop their empathic
horizon the better they are able to design for given ranges of users.
This paper firstly examines the concepts of user-centred design and individual designer’s empathic
horizon. The paper makes proposals as to how user-centred design approaches could be employed at a
school-level to develop the individual student designer’s empathic horizon. Attention will be paid to
the concept of development and progression.