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UCD & work practice change

I’m a big advocate of user-centred design. But I have found a situation where it is very difficult to do.

I do a fair amount of interaction & interface design. My normal methodology is to do some user research, talk with the client about requirements etc, write up personas and scenarios, talk with users some more, and so on.

However, the system I’m working on at the moment involves fairly extensive change to work practices (of course, I can’t speak much about it). In this case, I can’t talk with users at all – their current work practices and issues are of little relevance when they will be expected to work in an entirely different way in the future.

It is also very difficult for me to do any proper usability testing. The system has to be ready for when the work practice changes are announced, and I can’t show any real users or test with them until then.

What also makes me uncomfortable is that I’m sure that some of the users won’t perceive the system supporting the new business practice – they will think that the business process has changed ‘because of this new system’.

So, this is where I pull out all of my gut feeling (aka professional experience) and do my best…

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