What is user centred design?
User-centred design (UCD) is a process (not restricted to interfaces or technologies) in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of a product, service or process are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process.
When should you use it?
If you have a history of dreaming up design solutions based on a hunch then this is for you! Many people design websites based on what they think their users want – rather than actually knowing what they want. You might even be developing products or services for a demographic that you are not part of! Your audience might be considerably younger than you or your team members? UCD is designed to reduce the guesswork and base your web design decisions on user feedback and statistical data.
The user centred design process can help web designers to fulfill the goal of a web solution engineered for it’s users. Essentially it can increase conversions, sales, enquiries, website and business success.
What a lovely bunch! I wonder what they really think?
What’s the process?
ISO 13407 outlines five essential activities in a user centred design project:
Requirements gathering – Understanding and specifying the context of use
Requirements specification – Specifying the user and organisational requirements
Design – Producing designs and prototypes
Core build – Develop the front and back end application code
Evaluation – Carrying out user-based assessment of the site
Meet with key stakeholders to set vision
Develop user goals and objectives
Understand business goals and objectives
Look at competitive products and services
Review existing marketing material (including existing website)
Create user personas
Document user scenarios
Document the users requirements
Document the business requirements
Outline the project methodology
Include user testing where necessary
Provide detailed functional requirements
Web maps to decide on structure
Wireframes and early concepts
Prototyping (which can be tested with users – usertesting.com)
Initial UI designs, including branding / look and feel (again testing is possible though VerifyApp or usertesting.com)
Retest if necessary
Final refinements to produce a final prototype (viewable across all devices)
We will not focus on this too much as this article is more geared towards the user experience. Obviously creating a robust application above and below the bonnet contributes to a good user experience however for now we’ll focus on the front end UI.
It’s possible to user test and retest a solution from the early concepts right through to launch (and after). An evaluation of the final solution just prior to launch can ensure that you’ve got everything right and you can launch feeling assured that you’ve done everything possible to meet your customers needs.
Create a solution that is centred around your users simply makes sense. These are your customers and we all know how important it is to listen to them. So why not involve them in the process from the start. It’s never been easier or cheaper to reach out to your customers and get their opinion, so why not do it?
Get in touch
If you want to talk to us about user centred design or any other part of our process then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.