User Groups and Their Needs

For the course I’m TAing this semester, CSC318: The Design of Interactive Computational Media, the main group project is to develop a contacts/address book application. Part of the design process we get the students to go about is to think of a specific user group and then go do interviews, questionnaires and other investigations to determine their unique needs. An important part of HCI education is recognizing that your needs are not everyone’s. Another important part is learning to shut up and listen to your users instead of getting excited about all the bonkers algorithmic programming crazy-ass shit your expensive education and l33t skillz enables you to do. Thus, choosing the user group of “tech-savvy university students” is completely off-limits.

So, today, I got the project groups to brainstorm user groups. They are supposed to find a user group that:
* is unique enough
* they have convenient access to
* would have unique needs when it comes to a managing their contacts/address books.

While my student groups were studiously brainstorming, I came up with the following user groups of my own who desperately need individualized address book applications:
– aspiring actors who don’t have an agent or regular gig yet.
– freelancer coders who work across multiple time zones (never meet in person)
– campers/canoeing/climbing adventurers with busy downtown yuppie work schedules
– senior citizens going through the process of Alzheimer’s or some other cognitive degeneration (Guy Pearce in Memento)
– Vampires/Werewolves with strict feeding schedules and young sires
– cellphone salespeople
– telemarketers
– cold-blooded saurians whose friends are going extinct
– Mongol Hordes/Vikings keeping track of the villages they’ve pillaged
– Telepaths (even necessary?)

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