Larry Constantine writes about an alternative to User Centred Product Development (a development approach focusing on users). The discussed alternative is Activity Centred Development which moves focus towards the job in hand that is to be done by the users.
Some interesting points that stand out to me:
Designing for use rather than for users is a way to focus design more sharply.
â€œFocus upon humans,â€ he wrote, â€œdetracts from support for the activities themselves.â€ The result can be cool technology that doesnâ€™t work and complex applications that donâ€™t help people do the stuff they need to do.
paying too close attention to users and what they say can lead to timid, overly conservative design that does little more than repeat the mistakes of the past in a pretty new package
A third problem with users is that there are so many of them. And they are all different. They want different things and like different things and react differently.
I think that some of the argument touches grey areas that a good user interface designer/application developer can assess for themselves but overall an interesting view on the focus of application development.