What is User Centered Design?

User Centered Design (UCD) is an iterative practice in which user needs, data, and feedback are continually incorporated into the product design process. The goal of UCD is to tailor your product around the real requests of the user base. It's easy to get caught up in a long term company plan or vision and lose sight of who will really be the judge of your product: the users.

Storyboards and User Centered Design

Creating a user centered design process can be confusing since it generally requires many moving parts. An easy way to stay organized and make sure you're not skipping essential parts of the process is to associate visuals or storyboards with your design process. Storyboards will allow you to maintain linear organization of your design process and let you continually note user feedback along the way for the most successful iterations.

Key Benefits of User Centered Design

    Increased Conversion Rate

    By designing a product that is more in tune with meeting the needs of your customers, conversion rates will naturally increase.

    Decreased Customer Service Requests

    Since you have incorporated more user feedback into your design process, your product has addressed and resolved common user complaints, thus decreasing the burden placed on customer service.

    Brings Designers/Developers Closer to Users

    Traditionally, designers or developers are two or three degrees of separation away from the end users. By providing direct user feedback to either of these roles, they are brought closer to the customers, allowing for more effective product improvements.

    Creation of Safer Products

    Since product designers and developers are now able to work off direct user feedback, they are able to identify product holes that can allow for possible user error. By closing up these potential user error experiences, the product will become safer and more stable.

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5 Phases of User Centered Design

  1. Analyze

    The first step in the UCD process is to analyze who your primary users are and what objective they are trying to achieve. Products will frequently have multiple personas, each with distinct product objectives, which leads to multiple design processes for the same user flow.

  2. Specify

    The next step is to specify both user requirements and product requirements. What exactly does the user need out of your product in order to successfully achieve their objective? What exactly does your product need to elicit from the user in order to satisfy the needs of your business and maintain viability? Finding a harmonious balance between these two is key to the UCD process.

  3. Design

    After you've done some research into who is using your product, why they're using it, and what your product needs to accomplish, it's time to design some user flows. Based on the limited information you have, design a minimum viable product and roll it out to your users for initial testing. Remember, this is not your final product and should not include all the features you hope to have, only the ones you need now.

  4. Evaluate

    After you have shown your initial product design to some users and have had them engage and interact with the product, it's time to listen to their feedback and evaluate their user actions. What did the users enjoy about your product? What were their pain points? When observing their usage, which actions did they take most often and what surprised you the most? Pivot off the success that users have and tailor more features similar to those. Learn from their pain points and either cut back on confusing product aspects or improve UX based on feedback for customer satisfaction.

  5. Implement

    Now that you have designed a first concept of your product, rolled it out to users, and listened and understood their feedback, it's time to actually put that feedback to use. Implement what you have learned from your users and iterate your product accordingly. UCD is a never-ending, continual process and new product iterations should be designed and tested constantly.

User Centered Design Process Templates

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