What is User-Centered Design (UCD)?
User-Centered Design is an approach or process of designing completely focused on the end-user needs. This method considers the Website’s Objectives and their end-user Needs, Preferences and limitations.
So it is clear that, User-Centric Design is not only a process of designing while foreseeing the end-user needs but also you have to test it with a group of real end-users. Without the real time testing, it’s difficult – almost not possible – for the designers to learn about the Usability – ease of use – for a first-time visitor and the learning curve of Returning Users.
I hope you understood the concept; it’s simply altering the design according to the user friendliness than creating a design and forces the users to follow that.
Why you have to think about a User-Centered Design?
I came to your site, and I found it difficult to Use, I won’t Use it. Period.
We all know that most of the things in Web count on seconds. If you check the stay-length of your visitors on your site from your Server Logs, you may find that around 50 to 60% of them exited within the 0-30 seconds. Why it happens? There can be so many reasons, but the main one can be lack of User Friendliness.
We know most of the visitors won’t read the page, they do just scan the page for retrieving some information they are looking for. If they are not finding it, they do leave. Do you want them to leave without finding what you offer? If Yes, you can stop reading here.
The solution is, knowing what exactly your visitors are looking for and what all difficulties they are facing to find it from your site. And that is what User-Centric Design does.
You must have a feeling like, ‘oh, it is a headache to go with this and we are already doing well with the current processes. You will never know how much you are loosing until you look into this. The following points may change your views:
- Fixing a usability problem in the development stage costs 10 times more than if the problem were fixed in the design stage.
- The same problem fixed after release would cost 100 times more than if fixed in the design stage.
How do you implement a User-Centered Design? The stages of this process, as you guess, are carried out in an iterative mode, where each of the steps being repeated until the design finds its Usability objectives.
ISO 13407 (Human-centered design process) outlines four essential activities in a user-centered design project:
- Requirements gathering – Understanding and specifying the context of use
- Requirements specification – Specifying the user and organizational requirements
- Design – Producing designs and prototypes
- Evaluation – Carrying out user-based assessment of the site
As I said, the process ends once the project meets its User Objectives. Each of these stages is having various steps/methods inside to carry out, and varies on the process you have chosen to implement.
Probably this Visual Diagram may give you more idea about the process.
A Word from the Author:
Today I hope we both had a nice time of reading and understanding a new concept. More and more of the bigger firms are seriously thinking about these concepts – some already started following too, of course – and probably this year, you may turn more User Centric than traditional design methods.