user centered design

User-Centred Design (UCD) encompasses a variety of techniques that ensure you develop the best interactive website or app in the most effective way. User Centered-Design (UCD) is a philosophy and a process. It is a philosophy that places the person (as opposed to the 'thing') at the center; it is a process that focuses on cognitive factors (such as perception, memory, learning, problem-solving, etc.) as they come into play during peoples' interactions with things.

UCD seeks to answer questions about users and their tasks and goals, and then use the findings to drive development and design.

Most users don't really read web pages. Users looking for their 'nugget' of information are more like hunters than like someone out for a leisurely stroll.Users want to do things, not work out how to do them. If they are made to struggle with complicated navigation systems, or fail to find information where they expect to, they'll loose interest in your site and find one that treats them with a bit of respect.

Why it is important to you?

A successful website / app must deliver the business goals of the sponsoring organization. A major factor in this is driving revenue and loyalty by meeting the users' goals. The most cost effective way of achieving this is to employ usability engineering techniques as part of an iterative design cycle.

There are tangible benefits to our customers in doing things this way, not least of which is a having a quality website that will give confidence in your users, enhance your reputation and increase your traffic. Designing a site around the user is also a cost effective method of development. It reduces the likelihood of costly late redesigns (when you find your customers can't use your shopping cart) and can reduce the development times by focussing on the really important issues. Once they're up and running, user-friendly sites reduce the (often hidden) costs of providing training or fielding all those enquiries from confused users.

How do we help?

Involve users from the beginning

  • Discovering their mental models and expectations
  • Including them as an integral part of the design/development process and team
  • Observing them at their workplace; validating your assumptions about them; analyzing their tasks, workflow, and goals
  • Eliciting feedback via walk-throughs, card sorting, paper prototypes, think-aloud sessions, and other methods

Knowing your users
  • How much experience do the users have with?
  • Computers?
  • The Web?
  • Domain (subject matter)?
  • What are the users working/web-surfing environments?
  • What hardware, software, and browsers do the users have?
  • What are the users preferred learning styles?
  • What language(s) do the users speak? How fluent are they?
  • What cultural issues might there be?
  • How much training (if any) will the users receive?
  • What relevant knowledge/skills do the users already posses?
  • What do the users need and expect from this web site?

Observe and interact with users as you attempt to answer questions such as:

  • What are the tasks users need to perform; how do they currently perform these tasks? What is the workflow?
  • Why do the users currently perform their tasks the way they do?
  • What are the users' information needs?
  • How do users discover and correct errors?
  • What are the users' ultimate goals?

UCD seeks to answer questions such as:
  • Who are the users of this 'thing'?
  • What are the users' tasks and goals?
  • What are the users' experience levels with this thing, and things like it?
  • What functions do the users need from this thing?
  • How do users think this 'thing' should work?
  • How can the design of this 'thing' facilitate users' cognitive processes?