Asking Human Centred Questions



When performing human centred design there are three things which dramatically alter the nature and creativity of the information which people provide to the designer. One is the ethnographic setting, another is the amount of time of exposure to that setting and the final factor is the logical and linguistic structure of the questions which are asked.

Current HCDI research is investigating the influence of each of the three, and is developing new approaches which take into account the neural science of human memory systems and of subconscious processing.

Until such time as the final proposals are fully validated, however, a “cheat sheet” is provided by the Global Digital Citizen Foundation which is not a bad place for practicing designers to start.

While the “cheat sheet” is mostly a summary of the classical questions used when deploying the 5W’s method of design, the example questions are nevertheless well chosen from the linguistic and rhetorical points of view, and the assembling everything in an attractive resource should provide a helpful contribution to design practice.

University Research Project Regarding Driving Emotions

In collaboration with JaguarLandRover the Human Centred Design Institute (HCDI) of Brunel University is preforming several research studies which are attempting to understand the role of human emotions during automobile travel.  The internet link

will direct you to an online questionnaire which has been distributed to several dozen motoring associations in the UK. It is a very simple set of questions which require no more than about five minutes to complete. It enquires about the circumstances involved in recent highly emotional situations in automobiles

The study has been approved by the Brunel University Research Ethics Committee and all the collected data will of course be stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Might you be willing to participate in the study ?

J Giacomin

Cognitive Bias Codex 2016

cognitive bias codex 2016

Ever have the suspicion that a cognitive bias might be nested in the design data which you are looking at ? Or maybe you were wondering if there were any thinking patterns which your interface might encounter in practice ?

Well then the Cognitive Bias Codex may prove a quick-check tool for you.

Buster Benson has assembled and organised the best known cognitive biases into a list, which was then formatted as  handy poster for use in reviewing and fact checking.

Effect of Driving Context On Design Dialogue

Just completed a research paper treating the effect of context on the dialogue between an automotive designer and a driver or passenger. The latest results are further proof of the fact that it is extremely difficult to extract useful automotive design information from people unless you talk to them both “while it is happening” and “where it is happening”…

How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next

A thought provoking piece by William Davies in today’s Guardian discusses the role of “big data” in the societal change which has lead to the current negative public mood in relation to statistics, experts and governments.

The piece traces the history of statistics as a vehicle for liberal debate and as a tool for governmental policy from the enlightenment to the present day. It highlights how the limitations associated with data categories and data averaging are providing opportunities for today’s anti-expert and anti-liberal rhetoric.

The piece further highlights the challenges created by a world where the most useful pattern identifying and trend identifying tools are the commercial property of private companies, which have little or no incentive to share the societal insights and persona definitions with the press of with public bodies.

Opportunities: Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

Brunel University has just announced top-up support for applicants who wish to apply for a Leverhulme Trust Early Stage Career Fellowship. The funding for early career researchers can permit the development of a significant programme of research which assists the individual to launch their academic career. Multiple opportunities are available for innovative new research in areas of Human Centred Design for individuals who qualify for the funding. The university submission deadline is November 25th 2016.

For further innovation regarding the university submission process see:

And for further information regarding the Leverhulme eligibility criteria see:

AutoHabLab: a new approach to automotive co-design

UXPA Giacomin

Like most human habitats the automobile is characterised by multiple perceptions, emotions and social interactions. Drivers and passengers “live” and “socially interact” in their vehicles and thanks to mobile telephony and big-data they increasingly interact in a complex way with machines and with other people across both space and time. Given the sophistication of the context, it would be simplistic to continue to consider the motor vehicle as an environment characterised mostly by the performance of the driving task.

The recent UXPA event “The Changing Nature of Automotive UX” addressed automotive design from a human centred design perspective, and discussed a set of issues and techniques whose focus is firmly on the human needs, desires and experiences which are critical to current and future vehicles. The speakers were Joseph Giacomin of Brunel University HCDI, Rhodri Jones of Bentley and Farnaz Nickpour of Brunel University HCDI.