Concept test method to assist engineering students to involve users in a user-centered design project
Including user information in products that can be produced and sold for profit is critical to user-centered design. However, there is in the current literature a lack of methods to help designers in the initial phase of development. This lack is more critical when designers and engineers have little or no expertise in involving users in the Product Development Process (PDP). This paper presents a new method to evaluate product concept through the involvement of users with low-fidelity prototypes. The method was used in a case research with engineering students in a learning environment at a Brazilian public university. The qualitative analysis of the case research took place through the monitors' audios, method chart results, and groups' reports. These data revealed the effectiveness of the Concept Test method to assist groups of developers. Using prototype functionalities to involve users has brought relevant information to the design and it is extremely beneficial for engineering students and users without a level of expertise. Concept test is believed to be effective for the developer team to involve users in their projects through prototypes, but they should work as a complement to the requirements management methods in the other stages of development.
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