In broad terms, user-centered design (UCD) is a
design philosophyand a process in which the needs, wants, and limitations of the end user of an interface or documentare given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. User-centered design can be characterized as a multi-stage problem solving process that not only requires designers to analyze and foresee how users are likely to use an interface, but also to test the validity of their assumptions with regards to user behaviour in real world tests with actual users. Such testing is necessary as it is often very difficult for the designers of an interface to understand intuitively what a first-time user of their design experiences, and what each user's learning curvemay look like.
The chief difference from other interface design philosophies is that user-centered design tries to optimize the user interface around how people can, want, or need to work, rather than forcing the users to change how they work to accommodate the system or function.
UCD Models and Approaches
Models of a user centered design process help software designers to fulfill the goal of a product engineered for their users. In these models, user requirements are considered right from the beginning and included into the whole product cycle. Their major characteristics are the active participation of real users, as well as an iteration of design solutions.
Cooperative design: involving designers and users on an equal footing. This is the Scandinavian tradition of design of IT artefacts and it has been evolving since 1970. [Greenbaum&Kyng (eds): Design At Work - Cooperative design of Computer Systems, Lawrence Erlbaum 1991]
Participatory design(PD), a North American term for the same concept, inspired by Cooperative Design, focusing on the participation of users. Since 1990, there has been a bi-annual Participatory Design Conference. [Schuler&Namioka: Participatory Design, Lawrence Erlbaum 1993 and chapter 11 in Helander’s Handbook of HCI, Elsevier 1997]
Contextual design, “customer centered design” in the actual context, including some ideas from Participatory design [Beyer&Holzblatt, "Contextual Design", Kaufmann 1998]
All these approaches follow the ISO standard Human-centered design processes for interactive systems (ISO 13407 Model, 1999).
UCD answers questions about
usersand their tasks and goals, then use the findings to make decisions about development and design. UCD seeks to answer the following questions:
*Who are the users of the document?
*What are the users’ tasks and goals?
*What are the users’
experiencelevels with the document, and documents like it?
*What functions do the users need from the document?
informationmight the users need, and in what form do they need it?
*How do users think the document should work?
Visibilityhelps the user construct a mental modelof the document. Models help the user predict the effect(s) of their actions while using the document. Important elements (such as those that aid navigation) should be emphatic. Users should be able to tell from a glance what they can and cannot do with the document.
Users should be able to find information quickly and easily throughout the document, whether it be long or short. Users should be offered various ways to find information (such navigational elements, search functions,
table of contents, clearly labeled sections, page numbers, color coding, etc). Navigational elements should be consistent with the genreof the document. ‘ Chunking’ is a useful strategy that involves breaking information into small pieces that can be organized into some type meaningful order or hierarchyThe ability to skimthe document allows users to find their piece of information by scanning rather than reading. boldand italicwords are often used.
Text should be easy to read: Through analysis of the rhetorical situation the designer should be able to determine a useful
fontstyle. Ornamental fonts and text in all capital lettersare hard to read, but italics and bolding can be helpful when used correctly. Large or small body text is also hard to read. (Screen size of 10-12 pixel sans-serif and 12-16 pixel serif is recommended.) High figure-ground contrastbetween text and background increases legibility. Dark text against a light background is most legible.
Depending on the rhetorical situation certain types of
languageare needed. Short sentences are helpful, as well as short, well written texts used in explanations and similar bulk-text situations. Unless the situation calls for it don’t use jargonor technical terms. Many writers will choose to use active voice, verbs(instead of noun strings or nominals), and simple sentence structure.
A User Centered Design is focused around the rhetorical situation. The rhetorical situation shapes the design of an information medium. There are three elements to consider in a rhetorical situation:
Audience, Purpose, .
The audience is the people who will be using the document. The designer must consider their age, geographical location, ethnicity, gender, education, etc.
The purpose is how the document will be used, and what the audience will be trying to accomplish while using the document. The purpose usually includes purchasing a product, selling ideas, performing a task, instruction, and all types of persuasion.
The context is the circumstances surrounding the situation. The context often answers the question: What situation has prompted the need for this document? Context also includes any social or cultural issues that may surround the situation.
User-centered design according to Donald Norman
The book "The Design of Everyday Things", originally called "The Psychology of Everyday Things" was first published in 1986. In this book, Donald A. Norman describes the psychology behind what he deems 'good' and 'bad' design through examples and offers principles of 'good' design. He exalts the importance of design in our everyday lives, and the consequences of errors caused by bad designs.
In his book, Norman uses the term "user-centered design" to describe design based on the needs of the user, leaving aside what he considers to be secondary issues like aesthetics. User-centered design involves simplifying the structure of tasks, making things visible, getting the mapping right, exploiting the powers of constraint, and designing for error. Norman's overly reductive approach in this text was readdressed by him later in his own publication "Emotional Design".
User Centered Design in Product Lifecycle Management Systems
Software applications, or more commonly suites of applications, used in Product Lifecycle Management, typically including CAD, CAM and
CAxprocesses, can be typically characterized by the need for these solutions to serve the needs of a broad range of users, with each user having a particular job role and skill level. For example, a CAD Digital Mockup might be utilized by a design engineer of moderate skills, a novice engineering analyst or a manufacturing planner of advanced skills.
To provide true user centered design, it is necessary for these applications to have a tailorable user interface through which a user interface appropriate to each user-class can be provided.
Focus on more than just computers and single users
While user-centered design is often viewed as being focused on the development of computer and paper interfaces, the field has a much wider application. The design philosophy has been applied to a diverse range of
user interactions, from car dashboards to service processes such as the end-to-end experience of visiting a restaurant, including interactions such as "being seated", "choosing a meal", "ordering food", "paying the bill" etc.
When user-centered design is applied to more than single user interactions, it is often referred to as
user experience. A user experience comprises a number of separate interfaces, human-to-human contacts, transactions and conceptual architectures. The restaurant example (above) is an example of this - "ordering a meal" or "paying the bill" are two user interactions, but they are a part of the "user experience" called "dining out". It is not enough to have the separate interactions that comprise an experience being usable. The goal is that each interaction should integrate with every other interaction that forms a part of a single experience. In this way, the experience as a whole is rendered usable.
In product design, this is sometimes referred to as the "out of the box experience," referring to all tasks the user must complete from first opening the box the product is shipped in, through unpacking, reading the directions, assembly, first use and continuing use.
Techniques for creating a User Centered Design
* [http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org/usability_resources/about_usability/what_is_ucd.html What is User-Centered Design? - Usability Professionals' Association]
* [http://www.stcsig.org/usability/topics/articles/ucd%20_web_devel.html User Centered Design and Web Development by Raïssa Katz-Haas]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
User Centered Design — Die nutzerorientierte Gestaltung zielt darauf ab, interaktive Produkte so zu gestalten, dass sie über eine hohe Gebrauchstauglichkeit (Usability) verfügen. Dies wird im Wesentlichen dadurch erreicht, dass der (zukünftige) Nutzer eines Produktes… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Techniques for creating a User Centered Design — Techniques for creating a web based User Centered DesignA 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… … Wikipedia
User experience design — is a subset of the field of experience design which pertains to the creation of the architecture and interaction models which impact a user s perception of a device or system. The scope of the field is directed at affecting all aspects of the… … Wikipedia
User interface design — or user interface engineering is the design of computers, appliances, machines, mobile communication devices, software applications, and websites with the focus on the user s experience and interaction. Where traditional graphic design seeks to… … Wikipedia
Process-centered design — (PCD) is a design methodology, which proposes a business centric approach for designing user interfaces. Because of the multi stage business analysis steps involved right from the beginning of the PCD life cycle, it is believed to achieve the… … Wikipedia
Use-centered design — is a design philosophy in which the focus is on the goals and tasks associated with the use of certain technology, in contrast to user centered design approach, where the focus is on the needs, wants, and limitations of the end user of the… … Wikipedia
Usage-centered design — is an approach to user interface design based on a focus on user intentions and usage patterns. It analyzes users in terms of the roles they play in relation to systems and employs abstract (essential) use cases [See Constantine (1995) and… … Wikipedia
user-centred — UK US UK (US user centered) adjective ► used to describe products, systems, etc. whose design is based on the ways that people will use them and what they will do with them: »Software design should be user centered rather than system centered.… … Financial and business terms
Design methods — is a broad area that focuses on: Divergence – Exploring possibilities and constraints of inherited situations by applying critical thinking through qualitative and quantitative research methods to create new understanding (problem space) toward… … Wikipedia
Design — For the 1970s music group, see Design (UK band). All Saints Chapel in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The building structure and decorations are both examples of design … Wikipedia