Over the past two years that I have spent designing user interfaces for illiterate people in underserved communities, the most important lesson that I learned was to unlearn certain preconceptions about user-centered design. Two years ago, fresh out of graduate school, I believed in meticulously following the design processes and standard evaluation methods I had just mastered. But since then, I've discovered that more important than any particular process is the sheer time spent with the people I was designing for or with during initial investigations, during prototyping, and during usability testing. Immersion in a community allowed me to…
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