Introduction to UCD – User centered design
User-centered design is a discipline that focuses not on the user’s needs, but on the user’s wants, environment, likes, tastes, etc. Task-centered design is the sibling term who worries about the task the user is going to do, which prioritizes the physical and mental work the user is going to put on and thinks one or ten steps ahead to avoid useless tasks, and make hard tasks easy, for the user to have an easy and positive experience.
What is User-Centered Design?
- User-centered design (UCD) is a collection of processes that focus on putting users at the center of product design and development.
- User-centered design (UCD) is an iterative design process in which designers focus on the users and their needs in each phase of the design process.
In UCD, design teams involve users throughout the design process via a variety of research and design techniques, to create highly usable and accessible products for them.
Example: When a product team develops digital products, it takes into account the user’s requirements, objectives, and feedback. Satisfying users’ needs and wants becomes a priority, and every design decision is evaluated in the context of whether it delivers value to the users. The user-centered design gives you a way of adding an emotional impact to your products.
User-Centered Design Principles:
User-centered design is based on a few fundamental principles that can be applied to the product design process:
- Users are involved in the design process from the very beginning. Critical design decisions are evaluated based on how they work for end-users.
- Importance of requirement clarification. The product team always tries to align business requirements with users’ needs.
- Introducing user feedback loop in the product life cycle. The product team collects and analyzes feedback from users regularly. This information helps the team to make more user-focused decisions.
- Iterative design process. The product team constantly works on improving user experience; it introduces changes gradually as it gains more understanding about its target audience.
The Essential Elements of User-Centered Design:
- Visibility: Users should be able to see from the beginning what they can do with the product, what is it about, and how they can use it.
- Accessibility: Users should be able to find information easily and quickly. They should be offered various ways to find information for example calls action buttons, search options, menu, etc.
- Legibility: Text should be easy to read. As simple as that.
- Language: Short sentences are preferred here. The easier the phrase and the words, the better.
Focus areas of UCD:
- Identify the primary users of the product.
- Why they will use the product?
- What are their requirements?
- Under what environment they will use it?
- Collect information about their users’ needs.
Phases of UCD:
The following are the general phases of the UCD process:
- Specify the context of use: Identify the people who will use the product, what they will use
it for, and under what conditions they will use it.
- Specify requirements: Identify any business requirements or user goals that must be met for
the product to be successful.
- Create design solutions: This part of the process may be done in stages, building from a rough concept to a complete design.
- Evaluate designs: Evaluation – ideally through usability testing with actual users – is as integral as quality testing is to good software development.
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