User-centered design (UCD) puts users at the center of product development and involves them in the design from the beginning. Here, design is seen as an iterative process that incorporates user feedback both during the development process and after launch. User-centered design responds to both contexts of use (such as the user’s environment, technology, and emotional state) and business goals.
If this is beginning to sound familiar, you’re right! UX and UI design as disciplines are user-centered, and associated methodologies generally fall under the umbrella of user-centered design. There are many parallels between the methodologies we’ve explored in this lesson, and any one of them will help us balance priorities and collaborate better as a designer.
While user-centered design processes may define the steps differently, they generally involve the following activities:
- Understand: Empathize with the user.
- Specify: Hone in on a specific problem to solve.
- Design: Brainstorm and develop solutions.
- Evaluate: Test the product or prototypes to assess success and incorporate feedback.
Think about answers to the following questions to check your understanding of user-centered design.
At what stage of a user-centered design process should users be involved?
What does it mean that user-centered design is an “iterative” process?