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activity centered design example

10 Activity Centered Design Example Situations

These Activity Centered Design example situations can help you create a design with a simple concept.

Activity Centered Design, or ACD, is a Scandinavian concept.

It’s about designing to complete a task or an activity successfully, rather than focusing on the user. 

While the user benefits from the simplicity of this design, the main idea is not who will partake in the activity.

It’s how the activity will be made to achieve its ultimate goal.

Although this concept seems easy to understand, it’s quite difficult to accomplish such a simple and sleek design. 

In this article, we’ve listed some Activity Centered Design example situations that can help you understand the concept more.

Activity Centered Design

Most platforms or products are now created with the idea of providing numerous qualities.

They have evolved from concentrating on a single action to accomplishing it. 

Activity Centered Design is more focused on the concept of providing a single action and bringing it to life.

It doesn’t intend to have a platform providing dozens of different features or qualities.

Facebook, which has several different purposes and qualities that can be accomplished, is the opposite of ACD.

This concept is a model to follow when a designer is brainstorming for a new idea. 

Using this perspective allows the designer to concentrate on the finality of the piece or product they are creating.

It prevents thinking about the limitations or situations that a user may have. 

This allows for the item being created to be goal-oriented toward completing tasks. 

The ACD concept is just one of several design perspectives that can be adopted into a design, but ACD itself is a model, not a process.

Activity Theory

Activity Theory is a broad term used for a line of various social science theories and research. 

Sergei Rubinstein led and pioneered this idea in the 1930s.

This framework is a descriptive meta-theory rather than a predictive theory.

It considers the purpose, work, or activity system of something further than one user’s needs or abilities. 

That something includes teams, organizations, and products.

It’s this simple idea that has inspired the concept of activity-centered design.

Before ACD came to life, activity theory was the only basis of this type of design that existed. 

However, this idea only provided a baseline for many different possible concepts.

It was not a complete concept on its own. 

ACD and the Activity Theory In Contrast

The Soviet-born Activity Theory depicts the ultimate idea of simplicity and execution. 

ACD takes this theory a step further by ensuring that an ultimate goal will be accomplished through a thorough process. 

This goal is that a platform, product, or device meets the aim of ensuring that an action or activity comes to fruition from beginning to end successfully.

The secret to achieving a successful ACD is to break down the idea behind a platform or product.

The flow of the design that concentrates on only one action being achieved should also be focused on. 

The concept is lost when more than one action enters the equation or the user becomes the focus.

This is because the intention of creating simplicity and the attention that is focused on meeting the goal of an action or activity is lost.

For a design to be considered an ACD, it must be clean, simple, and focused on executing an action.

ACD Situations In Today’s World

The reason why ACD situations are so difficult to achieve is that they need to be made as simple as possible and put aside the user’s idea. 

In today’s world, the user is always the first aspect that is considered when building or creating any business model.

Keeping ACD and Activity Theory in mind, we must remember that the goal of these concepts is to complete an action.

With these two terms in mind, let’s take a look at ten of the best examples of ACD.

These have been intertwined in today’s culture and society worldwide.

Amazon: Purpose – Shopping

Our first Activity Centered Design example is Amazon.

America’s most beloved shopping experience – Amazon – is one of the world’s most valuable brands and influential economic forces. 

Accompanied by Google, Apple, and Microsoft, Amazon is part of the Big Four technology companies. 

Since its creation in 1994, Amazon has taken the world by storm. 

This online marketplace has not only created millions of jobs all around the world, but it also services multiple countries.

The second-largest private employer in the United States and the largest internet company by revenue worldwide, Amazon has created thousands of jobs worldwide. 

The monster of logistics and technological innovation that Amazon has created wiped out many we-established companies and industries.

But for being such a vast empire and working with such complicated systems, we seem to forget that Amazon has a sole simple purpose – to shop! 

Shopping is the main activity through which Amazon was born and brought up. 

While Amazon’s system is quite convenient for users, the design of providing a complete shopping experience falls flawlessly within the concept of ACD. 

Google: Purpose – Search the Web

There is not a human on the planet with internet access that does not know how to access Google

This search engine has already become a part of everyone’s daily life.

It is now the most visited website in the world, but it wasn’t always this way. 

Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google in 1998 while they were students at Stanford University in California.

Google now offers more services than just searching the web.

But its original primary function was to search through a catalog of websites found online.

It would work like an encyclopedia on the internet. 

The result is the search engine we all know today. 

The simplicity of the integration of the ACD concept into Google is remarkable.

It is because it was not precisely intended for it to grow to be such a big website.

However, the simplicity of Google’s function makes this page work as ACD to search the web. 

The clean-cut design of the main page also reflects ACD.

All you have to do is type what you are looking for into the simple bar placed under the logo. 

Google’s home page is the perfect example of the “ask, and you shall receive” of today’s world.

YouTube: Purpose – Share Videos

It is almost impossible to think of life before YouTube

This grandiose website not only allows us to listen to music anymore but also provides an easy way to share all types of videos. 

The majority of videos nowadays provide learning opportunities for people all over the world.

While users are highly benefited from the videos showcased on YouTube, the main idea is simply to provide a platform to share videos of all types. 

The goal is so simple that people forget that the user is simply a consequence of the service YouTube offers.

Although YouTube began in 2005 as its own company, it was acquired by Google in 2006. 

This comes to show how important it is for large companies and enterprises to maintain their service ideas straightforwardly. 

Netflix: Purpose – Watch Shows and Movies

Our fourth Activity Centered Design example is Netflix.

Known as the company that killed Blockbuster, Netflix is one of the most common ways of finding entertainment worldwide. 

With this simple ACD website, all a user has to do is log on and browse through the extensive collection of tv shows, series, movies, and documentaries that can be found on the site.

One can easily access Netflix through a computer, TV, tablet, and cell phone. 

The ease of accessibility to use the platform makes entertainment at your fingerprint.

This has become one of the best modern forms of entertainment right from the comfort of your couch.

How does this entertainment giant qualify as an ACD? 

The main activity is to watch shows or movies. 

All you have to do is browse or search if you know what you’re looking for. 

Once you have found what you would like to watch, you just select the title, and the entertainment will be on its way. 

This is one of the fastest ways of accessing movies on demand in today’s world.

Initially, Netflix began working in just one country in 1997.

Over 190 countries now offer Netflix – and it is still growing!

eBay: Purpose – Auctioning

Another giant in today’s society is eBay

It is a favorite for those of us who like to gamble with our luck. 

This auctioning platform became one of the top websites in the world in the early 2000s. 

It now operates in over 33 countries worldwide and is a multibillion-dollar company with more than eleven subsidiaries.

The main activity on this website is to create an experience of auction-style sales.

Although eBay has expanded its services and now offers instant shopping, auctioning is still the main attraction.

As mentioned previously, eBay has over eleven subsidiaries.

Although they are not in the same business of auctioning as eBay, they still fit under the framework of ACD. 

Each subsidiary concentrates on a specific action, including ticket trading and classified advertisements in different countries/

Others serve the same function as eBay under different names. 

It is this concentration on achieving just one action that makes eBay, along with its subsidiaries, prime examples of what an ACD is. 

This also shows us why other platforms, such as Facebook, do not qualify under this concept.

They are not focused on a single action, but on the user experience as the purpose of said platform.

Spotify: Purpose – Listen to Music

Spotify is one of the most widely used apps to listen to music online since its launch in 2008. 

With an option to listen to music for free or pay a subscription for a small price, Spotify has quickly become one of the giants in the music streaming industry.

This Swedish company exemplifies ACD at its finest. 

While you can also access this platform online, its main component is to work through the use of the app. 

Spotify has created a way in which listening to music is easily accessible and a better experience with a higher quality of sound in comparison to other apps, such as YouTube.

Currently, Spotify has over 286 million monthly active users, with 130 million users being paying subscribers. 

Spotify’s popularity excelled because users can access the tracks offered on the app without having to pay for individual tracks or having to buy full albums. 

One can also discover new artists easily through this app.

This is a unique experience that allows users to find new music and for artists to use this platform as a means for creativity and music recognition. 

According to the number of streams, as Spotify pays royalties, 70% of its total revenue is distributed to the music’s rights holders.

Spotify’s business model operation works under a freemium business model where essential services are free, but additional features must be accessed through other elements. 

While these two possibilities of a subscription are offered, they focus on achieving the same activity without deviating from the ACD of listening to music.

Airbnb: Purpose – Lodging Arrangement

Perhaps, this is one of the most recent and modern ways of saving money while going on vacation.

Airbnb offers the opportunity to find a rental place quickly and in a more affordable manner than acquiring a hotel reservation. 

Its main feature is providing options to find a vacation rental place, which is the activity to achieve through the platform.

The name Airbnb is a shortened version of its original name, AirBedandBreakfast. 

Its creators set up an air mattress in their living room and turned it into a bed and breakfast.

After that, they consequently created the website with the idea of offering short-term living quarters. 

This type of accommodation allowed home and apartment owners to offer lodging in a bed-and-breakfast style.

It is also for those who find housing more expensive or are unable to book a hotel room. 

It was initially launched in 2008 and acquired its first customers over the summer of the same year.

Now, Airbnb holds offices in several cities worldwide, including Paris, Mila, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Moscow, São Paulo, and Sydney.

It also has other offices in Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore.

Upwork: Purpose – Find Freelance Work

Initially known as oDesk, this freelancing platform is a place where individuals can connect with businesses or private employers.

This platform is where people can find private work contracts. 

It is easy to see why Upwork is the largest freelance marketplace in the world.

With over 12 million registered freelancers and 5 million registered clients, Upwork is worth a total of US$1 billion dollars. 

This online platform is one of the best ways of finding secure freelance work opportunities for freelancers worldwide.

Upwork was initially known as two separate freelance entities – Elance, founded in 1999, and oDesk, founded in 2003. 

In 2013, both companies announced their merger, creating Elance-oDesk. 

Two years later, Elance-oDesk became Upwork.

It upgraded the look and feel of the website while keeping its original essence which made the company so successful.

While there are a few other websites that concentrate on offering remote work opportunities, Upwork remains the most popular of all freelance platforms.

Its ease of access, secured payment options, and wide variety of professionals that are ready to work are the primary reasons for its popularity. 

Through its secure operation that allows freelancers to get fixed-payment and hourly contracts, this is the closest you get to work in another company while you are still your boss and being able to work from the comfort of your home.  

Its direct goal of providing freelancers with work opportunities is what puts this website on this list.

Pinterest: Purpose – Idea Discovery Through Linked Images

Since its founding days in 2009, Pinterest is an American social media website that offers food for the brain in the most unusual of ways. 

Pinterest is designed to share and save information or ideas discovered through images found on the World Wide Web.

By creating pinboards, users can categorize their ideas of the same niche. 

With 300 million plus monthly active users, it’s challenging to think that this website comes from humble beginnings. 

After its launch in 2010, Ben Silbermann, one of Pinterest’s founders, personally wrote the first 5,000 users to ensure the platform’s success.

He offered his phone number and even met with some of Pinterest’s new users.

The site was developed and operated out of a small apartment until the summer of 2011 when it outgrew its capacity. 

By 2011, Pinterest had already become one of the largest 10 social network websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This site is perhaps one of the most challenging platforms to understand following an ACD.

Its bookmarking link style could already be done through the bookmark section of any browser. 

However, the clever manner in which images provided a visual connection to the ideas was an entirely new way of cataloging links.

Flickr: Purpose – Image, and Video Hosting

The last  Activity Centered Design example is Flickr. 

Flickr is an online community that provides a platform for image and video hosting. 

This site is an excellent platform for professional and amateur, professional photographers.

They can upload their high-resolution videos and photographs and share them with other users to use as stock images.

This successful platform has had several big parent websites throughout the years, such as Ludicorp, Yahoo!, Oath, and SmugMug. 

When SmugMug acquired Flickr from Oath in 2018, it ended the 1TB storage plan for free users to allow medium-sized companies to generate revenue more effectively by selling the profiles of the users.

This was a widely accepted idea among Flickr users.

As most people who have some type of internet presence use stock images and videos for their marketing and self-promotion strategies, Flickr is one of the most reliable sites where professionals can acquire such stock videos and pictures.

The harmony of merely providing a database for users to acquire stock content is the simplicity that makes this platform qualify as being under the structure of an ACD example.

Challenges of Implementing Activity-Centered Design

Activity Centered Design (ACD) is a powerful tool for creating intuitive user interfaces that make it easier for people to interact with technology.

While it can be a great asset to any product, there are a number of challenges that come with implementing ACD.

The first challenge is a lack of understanding of the principles of ACD.

It is a complex concept to grasp and those without experience may find it difficult to fully comprehend.

Without the right training, it can be difficult to identify the right activities to design for, resulting in a less-than-optimal experience.

The second challenge is the cost of implementing ACD.

It can be quite expensive for businesses to invest in the tools and software necessary to implement ACD.

And those who do not have the necessary budget may find it difficult to make use of it.

Another challenge is time, as creating an ACD-based interface takes longer than other methods.

This can be especially difficult for companies that are on a tight timeline and do not have the resources necessary to dedicate to the project.

The fourth challenge is testing.

Due to the fact that ACD is a complex concept, it can be difficult to properly test and get feedback on a design before it is implemented.

This makes it difficult to catch potential problems that could lead to a less-than-desirable design.

Overall, while ACD can be an incredibly powerful and effective tool, it comes with a number of challenges that must be considered before implementation.

With the right training, budget, and time, however, it can be used to great effect as can be observed in the Activity Centered Design example situations we listed above.

Final Thoughts

Through these Activity Centered Design example situations, it can be noted that the most critical aspect of ACD is to portray the correct framework.

Having the right framework focuses on the activity that will ultimately be accomplished. 

Even though the user is not the first thing in mind while creating a design with ACD, the goal is to support a primary activity that is desirable or needed.

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