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No.2 (July, 2011) Special Issue on User-Centered Design

Vol.6 No.2 (July, 2011)

Special Issue on User-Centered Design

Basic activities supporting practical projects

KOHNO Izumi ・KOBAYASHI Masayuki ・IIDA Jun ・FUJII Hiromi

In order to develop products with innovation as well as superior accessibility and usability, NEC employs user-centered design (UCD) for our product designs and developments. Our Universal Design and Brand Strategy Office is promoting universal design (UD) and UCD (user-centered design) activities over the entire NEC Group from three viewpoints. These are “awareness and skill improvement” via employee training, “practical activities” that support the development department using UCD in their product development processes and “lateral deployment” that shares the experience and expertise acquired from case studies among the staffs of the entire NEC Group. This paper introduces the details of our activities referred to above and discusses the results.

OKAMOTO Hiroyuki

This paper describes the role of design in order to apply user-centered design (UCD) concepts to the various workflow processes. It also discusses the roles of designers and their effectiveness by focusing on the three main functions of designer activity: imagination, visualization and materialization. The reader also will be introduced to usability evaluations, universal design approaches and other activities as practiced in actual projects by the Design Department of NEC Design & Promotion.

AOKI Hiroyuki ・MIURA Kazunari ・TSUKIDA Ichiro ・NODA Hisashi ・NAKAI Haruo

“Usability” is one of the critical quality characteristics for the users of software but it has an aspect that is difficult to accommodate in the traditional framework of software quality management. This may be because of the relative and subjective content of its “usability” quality. To deal with this issue, NEC Soft has introduced “User-centered design” extensively in its standard process of SI/software development and is targeting continual improvement in its “usability” quality. This paper introduces these activities.

OKUBO Ryosuke ・NODA Hisashi ・TANIKAWA Yukiko ・FUKUZUMI Shinichi

In order to develop easy-to-use systems efficiently, the authors are developing “display design patterns” by systematizing the screen layouts and their component elements from the perspective of the theory and practice of the human interface. The display design pattern can be used to apply the concept of user-centered design (UCD) at various stages of systems development. These stages include for example the extraction of display requirements under agreements with the customer in the initial stage of development.After development of the display design pattern, the authors announced it in-house, invited comments in the interview and thereby found that the characteristics of the display system required for each of the system development stages are variable.


Following the amendments to Japanese industrial standards (JIS) regarding web accessibility in 2010, NEC enhanced the associated in-house tools and developed a new test tool for Web Accessibility-JIS standards. This tool implements features that include “batch processing,” “conformance level capability” and “iterative testing.” Its function is to support visual checking work and the “tests results output.” Additionally, the “large-scale site testing capability” feature has been inherited from a previous tool.A color testing tool has been developed, which has improved the efficiency of the testing by means of its color vision deficiency simulation function, testing using contrast judgment formulae, the presentation of “recommended colors” and a character recognition technology. These tools are currently used as the standard tools for in-house software development.

Product development case studies/Accessibility


Information displayed on the flight information system (FIS) is very important for airport users for acquiring flight information or details of the available airport facilities. In order to construct FIS at the International Flight Passenger Terminal of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), we employed the UCD (user-centered design) concept in order to achieve a human-friendly “Universal Design.”

YAMAOKA Kazuhiko ・OHTA Tomomi ・MATSUDA Takashi ・HINAGO Naotaka ・
FUJITA Shigeki ・HIRAOKA Masaharu

Seven Bank, Ltd. and the NEC Group have co-developed an innovative ATM (automated teller machine) and started to introduce it to the shops in March, 2011. This new type of ATM has pursued better usability and a superior environmental performance from the viewpoint of the user. It has been developed under a process that employs user-centered design concepts in order to achieve a product that will enable a variety of users, including persons with visual impairments or those from overseas countries, to use the machine safely and securely. At the same time, we have aimed to develop a product that is environmentally friendly.

HAKAMADA Hiroyuki ・OHYA Mitsuru ・SAKAI Ayako ・SAKURADA Asako ・
OHTA Tomomi ・OKAJIMA Katsunori, Dr. Eng.

According to the current progress of IT technologies in society, the need to employ universal design (UD) in information devices is being emphasized so that more people can easily and comfortably use them. In order to meet such needs, the authors have conducted research and analysis of fonts that are “easy to see” and “easy to read” for all, when they use information devices. According to these researches and analyses, we have defined four requirements and have developed our original fonts according to user-centered design (UCD) precepts in order to satisfy these requirements. From the results of the verification experiments, we have confirmed the effectiveness of these fonts in satisfying UD precepts and for achieving acceptable “easy to see (visibility)” and “easy to read (readability)” characteristics. This paper introduces our approach and the resulting new fonts.

AKATSU Masafuku ・TANIGUCHI Eiichi ・SHIBATA Yuichiro ・ABE Takumi ・

Aiming at developing products with high accessibility by applying UCD (User-Centered Design), NEC Infrontia is deploying UD (Universal Design) standardization as a corporate-level promotion activity. This paper introduces details of this activity including formulation of UD Policy, enforcement of UD evaluations, formulation of UD guidelines and implementation of UD considerations in our product development.

Product development case studies/Usability


This paper introduces the efforts made at NEC in the user interface improvement project based on a user-centered design concept for the ESMPRO/ServerManager, which is the server management software that comes bundled with the Express5800 server. The project is being executed in four stages: 1) evaluation of the usability of current products, 2) feedback surveys of users, 3) arrangement of concept and development of prototype, and 4) application to the actual product. While some of the user interface improvements have already been applied to the actual software, the project is ongoing and the product is being improved continually.

TAKAMATSU Hiroaki ・KATOU Atsushi ・MORIMOTO Takeshi ・MASUDA Naoki ・
NAKANISHI Shuichi ・JOUGO Shinichirou

As a result of pursuing eco-awareness, long service life, freedom from maintenance and high color reproduction of projectors, more and more projectors are adopting solid-state light source devices. Under this trend, NEC Display Solutions is developing a 3-panel LCD projector that uses LEDs as the light source. The much larger color gamut of the LED light source compared to the conventional light source allows this product to achieve an AdobeRGB coverage of 98%, a level that has been hitherto impossible with traditional projectors. At the same time a long service life, freedom from maintenance and high color reproduction characteristics are also implemented.

YAMADA Eiko ・OKAMOTO Katsuhiko ・MATSUKAWA Hiroo ・IWAKI Yoshihiro

“Usability” is regarded as being an important issue in the rapid market expansion of the smartphone. This paper introduces the user-centered design (UCD) expertise that NEC CASIO Mobile Communications, Ltd. has accumulated since the age of the traditional cellular phones. It also discusses actual examples and UCD perspectives of the age of the smartphone.

SUZUKI Katsuya ・HONDA Kotaro ・SHIMIZU Yoichi ・HANAOKA Taira ・SHIMOI Hideyuki

The line of Cloud Communicators consists of three products designed according to specific scenarios of usage, and a UI based on the concept of human-friendliness designed to match the scenarios of usage of each product. The single-screen “Cloud Communicator LT-S” features a human-friendly UI using a touchscreen panel with pen-input capability. The dual-screen display tablet PC, “Cloud Communicator LT-W,” uses a new UI inspired by its book-style design. Finally, the “Cloud Communicator LT-N” uses a UI suitable for communication using the touchscreen panel as well as the character input via the integrated hardware keyboard.


The scenarios of PC use are diversifying and multiplying due to the advancement and diversification of IT devices. Therefore, the “usability” requirements from users are also always changing today. Under such circumstances, to develop PCs truly from the viewpoint of users by employing the concept of “user-centered design (UCD)” has become indispensable.This paper introduces the efforts being made by NEC Personal Products for providing customers with PCs which is “very-easy-to-use throughout total PC life” based on such “user-centered design” process. Some actual case studies of improvements are also reported.

Product development case studies/Innovations

ODA Akira

Following its deployment in enterprises and in educational institutions the projector is now becoming a mainstream commodity. The product development of the projector is required to provide diverse new factors and added improvement values by shifting from the “manufacturer’s viewpoint” to the “user’s viewpoint.” Against this background, NEC Display Solutions has attempted to express the appeal of the developed product in a way that is easy to understand for the user. This has been achieved by introducing user-centered design in the concept and design development processes by using the persona method. This paper introduces how the product concept is clarified and is embedded with the design by following the actual flow of the product development.

KATOU Masahiko ・SUGIMOTO Masahiko ・UENO Masato ・TAKEMOTO Akiko ・KAWANAKA Takanori

If information can be input, output and processed by using information-processing terminals even in dusty factory workshops or in outdoor environments that are exposed to harsh winds and rain, it becomes possible to implement an efficient system capable of more real-time utilization of information.To meet these needs, NEC has developed and is marketing advanced rugged notebook computers that feature enhanced environmental resistance.This paper introduces the process whereby we reflect customer opinion in order to enhance our products. It also refers to the markets that we have been able to develop thanks to the enhancement of products and the activities that we conduct with the aim of generating new customer values.