User-Centered Design (UCD) or User-Driven Development (UDD) is a framework of processes in which usability goals, user characteristics, environment, tasks and workflow of a product, service or process are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. UCD is a tool mainly used for solving problems. It is an optimistic approach that is used to explore new solutions focusing on human needs believing that it can satisfy those needs.
User-centered design when executed properly ultimately leads to an increased product usefulness and usability. In order to be a successful UX designer, you have to be able to come up with new solutions to a similar problem every time. It can be a daunting task but it is not impossible. Despite impending setbacks a designer may face in the process, the process of evolution should be perceived as inevitable in the design world. Testing is necessary as it is often very difficult for the designers of a product to understand intuitively what a first-time user of their design experiences, and what each user’s learning curve may look like. According to a study, businesses who incorporated UCD at the earliest opportunity did not regret such a move.
Now that we have an understanding of what UCD is as a process, we will now discuss its benefits.
- Encourages innovations across team members.
This is a great avenue for team members (internally) to pitch in ideas backed by research from the community or general public of pertinent facts for an idea of a product or service to be developed. The essence is undertaking any design project with a clear picture of your new product or service’s end-user in mind. A user-centered design bridges the gap and brings communities together. It makes way for lots of new ideas to come to life and bring noticeable innovations to the products that can serve the needs of the people.
- Creates more meaningful engagements.
Meaningful engagements mean cultivating initial interactions from customers to long-term ones. Through user-centered design, data-driven decisions shall be the guiding star of the business moving forward. It becomes easier to identify the group of people who will use the product, for what they will use it for, and what the conditions for which they will use it, if any. These are the key considerations a UX designer can keep in mind in doing UCD.
- Positions your product at a competitive advantage.
In the height of ecommerce and digital marketing, competition is very high. There are a lot of buyers and sellers of the same product. Which would then lead us to the question, what sets my products or services apart that I can be assured I have a customer patronizing it? Through user-centered design, the customers can be convinced to buy your product because it will meet their requirements more as compared to other products. Usability and sustainability are key factors for consumers in buying a product.
- Creates Positive User Experiences.
A business is known by its values, market share, and above all, customer loyalty. No matter how much you invest in marketing, the impact word of mouth creates is something extraordinary. Through user-centered design, positive user experiences can be created that can go a long way in the success of the business.
- Drive More Sales.
Since the user-centered design is all about the needs of the customers, it can drive more sales because it improves the customer experience associated with a website, a product or a service. This is where the importance of involving the customers in the design process. It will give them a sense of ownership in your product or service.
- Allows you to continually improve your products and services.
But of course, if you’ve reached the perfection of a prototype, you may maintain it and make the most of it as you have spent considerable efforts in perfecting it. However, as almost everything is evolving, think of UCD as a vehicle to help you design more effective and safer products. There is also no need to change the design late in the process. This saves you from spending too much money and time delays.