Surrogate users : a pragmatic approach to defining user needs

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This case-study paper presents a pragmatic approach to getting closer to end-users by briefing project stakeholders to think as surrogate-users within managed 90 to 120 minute-long focus groups. It concludes with an evaluation of the approach in terms of the experiences of the research participants and its merits in terms of project delivery and outcomes. It finds that the method described is particularly useful in multi-stakeholder projects and provides a rich design brief with clear, agreed, user-centred design goals. Yee argues that innovative design practice is stimulated by getting the users to ‘act’ as surrogate users in order to engage and elicit information from users. The ‘surrogate-user ‘ approach was used in the development of the Praxis 2003 CD-ROM, Distance Learning training package, developed specifically for health workers and the learning environment of the hospital wards – taking into account the type of learner (adult), learning environment (hospital ward, shared computers, short learning spell) and content - mostly video to illustrate the method, audio and interactive exercises- (research funding £41k). This paper discusses a research method used in a pragmatic setting of a live design project. It ties in with Yee's interest in the development of theory to support research-led practice. This work also integrates with the human-centred problem solving research within the CfDR. It complements the work of Little and Silience.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2007
EventCHI 2007 (ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) - San Jose, California
Duration: 28 Apr 2007 → …


ConferenceCHI 2007 (ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems)
Period28/04/07 → …


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