A crucial challenge within user centered design (UCD*) is to involve users to, for instance, obtain information about their needs and to evaluate concepts. UCD methods are intended to help designers in this challenge. However, product development practice is extremely hectic and messy, often leaving practitioners with very little time to explore beyond the methods they already know by heart. As a consequence designers often stick to what they know, leaving many potentially beneficial methods unused and those hindering the development of the field and eventually the development of better products for users. Practitioners need to be able to quickly find the appropriate method, assess its qualities and learn how to apply it. But with over 200 methods and techniques available, how do you choose what’s best?
Even while many methods are spread over a wide variety of sources, such as on-line collections, I didn’t felt they were empowering designers and researchers in finding methods that would be a better fit with the challenge they are facing. Talking to designers and researchers in my network, there seemed to be a need for a better solution. An online resource would be the interactive and easy-to-update solution I was looking for. In 2011, I suggested the idea to members of the Design for Usability research project (DfU); a collaboration of the Dutch Delft University of Technology, University of Twente and University of Technology Eindhoven together with the companies Philips, Océ, Unilever, T-Xchange and Indes. It didn’t take long for this project to be part of a bigger vision to support industry in the creation of usable products.