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What is user centered design?

What is user centered design?

Designing and developing good solutions to simple problems is often a laborious process. User Centered Design is a method for streamlining this process and arriving at a user-friendly result in partial steps. This article concisely explains this method and describes how to put the user at the center of your communication design.

Four steps

The process of User Centered Design can be structured into four stages: analysis, design, evaluation and implementation. UCD is not a linear process; a cycle or part of the cycle will usually be completed several times.

The first step in the method of user centered design is to create a vision and set your goals. The communication problem is examined and described in this phase. The target audience is, of course, central to this. Gathering information about your visitor’s knowledge, experiences and skills provides guidance for the other phases of the design process. Based on a problem analysis and a description of the target group, user tasks can be described and the information structure can be established.

  • Establish vision and objectives
  • Analysis of the target group
  • Determine user tasks
  • Define information structure

The design phase can go through several times in a process, depending on the number of moments of evaluation. Conceptual development and the creation of a mental model are started in this phase. Creating mood boards, determining a navigational structure, creating storyboards, sketches and non-functional prototypes are the first steps in the design process and can be summarized as low-fidelity prototypes. After developing and evaluating these concepts, functional (online) prototypes can be developed and evaluated (“high-fidelity prototypes”).

  • Low-fidelity prototypes (mood boards, diagrams, sketches, concepts)
  • High-fidelity prototypes (functional prototypes).

After each intermediate step in the design process, evaluation can take place. Here, among other things, a distinction can be made between user-driven and expert-driven evaluation methods. The choice of an evaluation method depends on the available budget, time constraints, available users and the form of a concept. Examples of methods that can be conducted with users include cognitive walkthrough, focus groups, co-discovery method and the think aloud protocol. Expert-driven methods are conducted by experts with extensive knowledge of the topic of communication or knowledge in the field of design/usability.

The final step in the design process is the development of prototypes based on the results of the evaluation. Even after implementation, it is wise to evaluate and fine-tune a design where necessary. Analyses based on visitor statistics or user-driven methods can be used for this, for example.

Customer journey mapping

The term customer journey mapping, taken from the field of marketing, loosely translated means “customer journey” and describes these different touch points of a person with a product or a brand from the first perception to the moment of purchase decision and also beyond. In marketing language, the term touchpoint is usually used instead of the terms touch or contact points.

Such touchpoints can be, for example, advertising posters, radio spots, queues at the supermarket checkout, experience reports in social media or the opinion of an acquaintance about a product at a fixed table. But e-mail contact, surfing the provider’s or dealer’s website or visiting a store are also customer touchpoints within the customer journey mapping model. Read more about customer journey mapping!