UCD: Designing User-Centred Experiences

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24 Apr UCD: Designing User-Centred Experiences

In today’s world, a lot of time, energy and resources are invested in technology and we are losing sight of the individual. This is primarily because we have not realised that the successful launch of a product, website or app depends on our putting the customer at the centre of our design. This is where UCD (user-centred design) comes into play.

UCD is defined as a set of methodologies and techniques that all share the same aim: to get to know and understand the needs, constraints, limitations, behaviours and traits of the user.

It focuses on understanding and solving these real issues and needs of users in a process of continuous improvement that takes into account the user at every level and involves the diverse company departments (marketing, design, programming, product, etc).

UCD is sometimes confused with the concept of usability. Usability refers to the user’s website experience in terms of interaction, fluidity and understanding of content. User-centred design, on the other hand, also seeks to ensure that all of a visitor’s needs are met when they enter a website, app, social media site, publication, digital catalogue, etc.

So, throughout the design process, we need to maintain this focus and gather all the information that our target will need.

It is essential that user-centred design be both methodical and rigorous, since this will save us time and money and put us on the path to a successful design.
Any UCD process will consist of these steps:

Strategy/planning: why and what do we want to solve?

Research: gather data to get answers to all our questions.

Analysis: conduct a thorough analysis to detect a specific problem.

Ideation: come up with new ideas to solve the detected problem.

Evaluation: test, measure, learn and repeat.

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Likewise, there are many techniques for implementing it. Here, we outline the most relevant ones:

User test: Observe how a group of people perform a specific activity, analysing the usage problems that arise.

Heuristic evaluation: Method of inspection using evaluation that does not require user participation, in which experts analyse compliance with recognised principles of usable design.

Card sorting: Uncovers users’ mental model to adapt the organisation and classification of information to that model.

 Eye tracking: Analyses how people perceive visually in order to predict the visual behaviour of users, pinpointing the elements will attract their visual attention.

Ethnography: Involves living with research subjects to gain an understanding of their socio-cultural setting through direct observation and experience.

Interviews: With direct questions to the research subjects.

Surveys: A powerful quantitative tool taking form of structured questions asked to a statistically representative segment of our target.

Web analytics: Allows quantitative analysis of user actions on a website. It has the big advantage that, unlike other quantitative techniques, it is based not on a sample but on total user monitoring.

To finish off, we can conclude that the importance of UCD cannot be overlooked, because any company looking to succeed in today’s world must put the user at the centre of its design processes.

At Intracon Spain, we are aware of this and have been applying the methodology to all our designs for some time now. So, if you are thinking of launching a new project, don’t think twice about getting in touch with us.

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