This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

User-Centered Design Evaluation by Application of Biofeedback Technology




Skinner, Whitney

Type of Degree



Industrial Design


It is the responsibility of an Industrial Designer to create products that are valuable in usability and aesthetics for the user. Through design evaluation, the designer is able to use techniques of screening out less attractive ideas so that the final result best meets the users’ needs. User-centered design evaluation approaches help to minimize the guess work for designers by gathering the user’s feedback throughout the product’s development. This approach helps to minimize the risk of product failure by channeling the user’s preferences during the product development. There are many design evaluation methods, from criteria matrix, weighting and rating, check list, dot-sticking, to user testing that aim to measure user attitude toward designers’ concept sketches, models, or prototypes. These methods capture the conscious physical responses the users make in evaluating the designs. During the translation period, the users’ real time responses are filtered to designers through the communication process. Many inherent problems, such as bias and misinterpretation, associated with communication are inevitable during the process. Therefore, design evaluation techniques are modified to effectively help designers select the ideas that user responds best towards Biofeedback technologies, used by psychologists for years, provide much more objective results for design evaluation. The Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) uses a psycho-galvanometer to measure the resistance of the skin to the passage of a very small electric current. The magnitude of this electrical resistance is affected not only by a person’s general mood, but also by his or her immediate emotional reactions. The change of this electrical resistance is related to the level of cortical arousal. The results from a GSR experiment are a record of the internally experience emotions that a user cannot communicate consciously or physically through other evaluation methods. This study introduced a new design evaluation method that addresses the physically expressed thoughts and emotions as well as the internally experienced emotional response. Understanding the user’s emotional response through a traditional method of evaluation and a biofeedback method allows designers to better understand the user. This method impacts design evaluation and product outcomes with a process that captures a more complete response from the user. Essentially, products evaluated using this new method are likely to be more successful than those evaluated using current methods.