The times when it was up to marketers and sales managers to guarantee commercial success for a product are long gone. The market (including the digital market and the internet) is oversaturated with interchangeable products. The users will not use your mobile application or website just because you managed to convince them with powerful copy and a bright infographic.
Professional UX/UI design agencies have discovered a new trend: people tend to choose user-oriented products. Everyone likes to be in the center of attention.
After reading this post, you will learn what makes user-centered so special and what benefits it can bring to your product.
What is user-centered design?
User-centered design is the new standard of project development. If you follow its principles, it means that you put the needs and desires of your customer in the limelight. Instead of just trusting your own opinion or assuming that you know what the users want, you use a data-driven approach to design. UX/UI research, interviews, and feedback help to create user-centered designs.
User-focused design means that you fully understand the needs of your target audience. It takes into account gender, age, geographical location, education, and several other important parameters. Taking such factors into account, a user experience agency aims to improve user experience and create or enhance relevant products.
Principles of user-centered design
If you want to create a user-centered design, you need to follow these five rules. This is not an instruction manual but rather a set of recommendations. Every niche and every product is different so you will have to apply different methods of UX research depending on your case.
- Have a clear understanding of the task requirements from the user’s perspective. There is only one way to achieve this: talk to the client and collect the requirements. Then try to model the user persona and only include the features that are going to help regular users achieve their goals.
- Work in iterations. The waterfall methodology is not flexible enough to correspond with the market requirements. By working in iterations, you leave space for the communication with the client and potential users. You can introduce changes on the go, which makes the development process much more flexible.
- Utilize user feedback when making design decisions. Having formulated your idea of the final product or a concrete feature you would like to implement, do not forget to test it. You can do that by gathering a focus group or conducting A/B testing.
- Involve users in the evaluation of the design at every stage of the product. This is another reason why it is so important to work in iterations. It is a myth that you should only do usability testing once – at the end of the project. You can attract users to the assessment process as often as needed.
- Make the user-centred design integral to the development process.
Applying user-focused design step by step
Now let us see how you can apply the principles of user-focused design step by step.
First, study your target audience and try to understand what features and functionality they need. Why do they need this tool? What design decisions attract them? You can observe the tendencies that surround you or conduct active research through surveys and interviews.
Then, it is time to sketch your ideas. You can use a sketch to share your ideas with other team members but for clients and potential users, a drawing on paper is not enough. Digitize your sketch and make a clickable mockup that imitates how the final product is going to feel. By doing this, you will collect the most accurate feedback from your test group.
Show your mockup to the participants. Observe how they interact with the product and ask them questions. Do not criticize or judge their ideas. The users should be absolutely at ease or you risk not hearing honest feedback.
Once you have collected user feedback, it is time to introduce some changes. If needed you can repeat the previous steps until you reach satisfactory product quality.
User-centered design is a natural way to attract more clients to your app. When you put the user first and design a product that is convenient for them to use, it is hard for people to ignore it. Apply the principles of user-focused design in your project and you will be greatly rewarded.