Basics of user centric software design

User centric design may be defined as an iterative design process, wherein the focus lies upon the end users’ usability. Rather than asking the users to adapt their attitudes and behaviours to learn and use a system, a system can be designed to support its intended users’ beliefs and knowledge as they relate to the tasks that the system is designed to support. The developers have the task of understanding the intention of the software and the background of the user. This step helps to bridge the gap between the goals of the business and the customer expectations. Expectations are to be met to satisfy customers in turn. So what are the phases that are involved in UCD?

Following are the 4 general phases of UCD:

  1. Specification of the context of use
  2. Requirement specification
  3. Creation of design layout
  4. Evaluation

What are the key principles of UCD?

Emphasis on the users and their intended tasks

It is important for the developer to give consideration for the users and support them in all means. Characteristics like user population, their understanding capability, etc provide valuable points to focus in reference to the task at hand, for the developer team. Every perspective of the user has to be taken into account for turning the project into a successful one.

Consistent Progress

A system that is easy to get familiar and learn with minimal requirements is what the user desires. For this, the interface has to behave consistently. The designing phase has to inculcate consistency to integrate with the existing components in a computer system.

Use simple tips to brief

The usage of simple language is encouraged as the targeted audience need to understand the purpose of the application. Irrelevant information can be avoided wherever possible. An interactive design can aid to the easy understanding of the end user.

Provision of adequate feedback & navigation systems

Users have to be given chance to provide feedback after every phase of progress. This makes the developer team understand where they can improve in the upcoming projects. Involvement of the users can be enhanced by keeping them occupied with the system. For this, the navigation of the application needs to be simple. A step-by-step procedure will be easy to understand and the progress will not be disrupted.

Presentation matters!!

The way of presenting information to the end user is indeed a big task. The arrangement of information is valuable to the user. On-screen depiction of such matters is very important and should be made as engaging as possible. Users shouldn’t feel bored while accessing the content on display.

User Assistance

User should be able to extract all the information necessary for them to continue on the path to progress. In simple words, they should be self-explanatory. Information displayed on the window must be in harmonious with the user’s tasks. Provision of tips and tricks at crucial places will boost the learning process. In case of doubts from the user side, a query section may be included in the design for assistance.

With that, we can understand the principles of User Centric Design and its concern towards the user of the system.

Let us outline the elements of UCD.

5 Major Elements of UCD involve the following aspects:

  • Active involvement of the user
  • Well-defined understanding of the users, tasks and the context of the products’ use
  • Having an appropriate mix of application of the technology and user input
  • Iterative design process
  • Multidisciplinary design

 

Now let us see how UCD can help in improving ROI(Return of Investment)/Impact of UCD on ROI:

  • Reduction in development costs

Since development of the application is based on the inputs of the end user, there may not be a situation of reworks and redevelopment.

  • Improved revenue

UCD helps in enhancing user experience and brings in new projects via referrals.

  • Superior quality products

Design process that take users into consideration, involves them during the development and takes input from stakeholders are bound to result in better quality outputs rather than those design processes that fail to do so.

  • Error reduction

As the starting stage of the process involves more of the users’ view, there is very less scope for errors. This in turn, increases the productivity of the company.

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Increase in referrals
  • Decrease in drop off and support

 

So, with these points in mind, stakeholders are prone to invest in more User Centric Design processes as it focuses on user experience. It should be noted that there are many variations of the UCD process. It can vary based on the needs of the user.

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