What's User-Centered Design (UCD)?
UCD seeks to answer questions about users and their tasks and goals, and then uses the findings to drive development and design.
Typical questions are:
- Who are the users?
- What are their tasks, goals, and experience levels?
- What information will the users need, and in what form do they need it?
- What are the users’ expectations for how they will interact with the application or website?
- How can the design facilitate users’ cognitive processes?
For the NDI Web Team, UCD is a vital part of designing and developing new sub-sites and web applications and major content areas for its clients’ websites like FAA.gov. UCD is important in all phases of these major projects — requirements gathering and analysis, design, implementation, and deployment. Usability testing is a big factor in UCD, and we use an iterative process to refine designs as we go along.
Studies have shown that spending time on UCD during the requirements gathering and initial design phases save significant time and expense. It is far more costly to wait until later in the project (such as during the development phase) to address how people interact with an application.