User–Centered Design Basics
User–centered design (UCD) is an iterative process based on a clear understanding of users, tasks, and environments. It is driven and refined by user–centered evaluation, and addresses the complete user experience through a deeper understanding of who will be using the product.
There are multiple principles involved in user–centered design, and involves users throughout the design and development process. The design team is generally composed of several disciplines and perspectives that complement each other’s skills and philosophies.
Benefits of User–Centered Design
The benefits of UCD is improved performance through a reduction in user errors, ease of use, and easier learning metrics. Frequently, an increase in exposure through online traffic and audience size or numbers, return visitors, new visitors, and increased number of visits through search engines occurs as well. It also improves credibility through user satisfaction, and referrals. Another benefit is a reduction in development costs, maintenance time, redesign, support and documentation, as well as training times, and an increase in transactions and sales.
Phases of User–Centered Design
The general phases of the UCD process are:
- Specify the context of use through determining the user, the function of the product, and the conditions under which it will be used.
- Specify the requirements or user goals that must be met for the product to be successful.
- Create design solutions that address user needs and expectations.
- Evaluate designs through usability testing with actual users to determine functionality and satisfaction of goals.