User-Centred Design: A Key to Building Successful Digital Products


User-centred design (UCD) puts the user firmly in focus along each iterative step in your product development journey. Learn how.
User centred design for building websites

Your goals for your digital product may vary from product to product and business to business but one thing is consistent, you want to achieve success by connecting with your target users. User-centred design can be the key that unlocks this success.

User-centred design (UCD) puts the user firmly in focus along each iterative step in your product development journey. It is a set of processes that reinforce the importance of the end user and their needs at each step along the way.

This approach is geared towards increasing customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, overall engagement, and retention. It helps to achieve these results by the deep focus and iterative approach.

If you decide to get on board with user-centred design you will not be alone. AirBNB, Spotify, and many others have used this approach to great success, leading it to become a well explored standard for digital product creation.

User-Centred Design is broken down into four key steps that are iteratively explored

1. Understand context of use

The first step is to truly understand the jobs that the customer is trying to do and why in the current engagement. This is where you can conduct and analyse user behaviour through research, gathering data analytics, and any other methods of user insights.

It is important to empathise with the user and think through the environment they will be in, the devices that they will use, the tasks that they will be executing, and any other pertinent elements to their interaction.

By taking this deep dive you will be able to put yourself into the user’s shoes and identify their requirements from a place of understanding.

2. Specify user requirements

This is where you break down the information that you gathered in the previous stage and attempt to sort the wheat from the chaff.

When seeking to translate the data points captured into clear and measurable requirements for the user and business needs you should reflect on the underlying needs and wants.

The goal here is to align the user and business goals so that a product-market fit can be made and you will be able to inform the next stage of the process to create products and services that will surprise and delight your users.

3. Design solutions

This is where the rubber hits the road and you start to create and prototype potential solutions to the problems that you have identified, in service of the user and business requirements captured in the previous stage.

Now that you have understood what you target customers are trying to do and why, and you have detailed out the specific requirements for them you can effectively attempt to solve them.

Designing the actual solutions is also the most collaborative and creative stage where we are throwing out hypotheses and potential solutions whilst thinking outside of the box to meet the discovered needs.

4. Evaluate against requirements

The proof is in the pudding.

Now that you have a potential design solution, it is critical to test it to ensure that it meets the requirements of the business and the user to aid them in the jobs that they are looking to complete.

You have spent the time to learn about the needs, document the requirements, and build out potential solutions and now you need to get it in front of people to make sure it has the right effect.

There are many ways to evaluate against requirements, including user testing and focus groups, to ensure that your solution is on the right track.

The important thing to remember is that this is an iterative process. You can jump back to the design if you find that through validation it needs adjustment. You may discover an issue with how the requirements were gathered and documented - so you can jump back to that stage and continue to move forward. You may indeed discover something new about the user prompting you to jump back to stage one and then continue the flow through the stages to get back to validation.

User Centred Design is supported by a series of principles

There are a number of principles that underpin the framework of UCD to keep you on track and remind you of the goals of the work at hand. Some of these are listed below:

  • Design must be in the service of the user and their tasks - ensuring that you understand the who, what, and how of your target audience and keeping that at the forefront of your actions as part of UCD.
  • Connect directly with users, early and often - ensure that you are engaging directly with your current and potential users throughout the process to refine your approach.
  • There is elegance in simplicity - making sure that your approach is simple and clear, using plain language focused on being understood and stripping away what is not necessary with ruthless focus.
  • Light the path for your users - providing clear guidance and information for your users to understand what is going on with the product, where they are in their process, and clear instructions on what to do will keep your users engaged.
  • This about the bigger picture - the psychological and emotional drivers of your user should be considered beyond just the functionality and usability of the solution.

UCD can be just the tool you are looking for to improve your product

Thinking deeply and solving iteratively in a structured approach is proven to yield better results.

User-centred design is a logical approach that taps into this with a clear series of steps in a logical process. It keeps you anchored with a set of guiding principles that are clear and concise. It relies on iteration through the steps to ensure that you are putting out proven solutions that will deliver better business outcomes over time.

UCD could be just what you are looking for to change up your approach to digital product development.

Should you need help to get started with this proven process, feel free to touch base with us and we can guide you in the right direction.

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