What is user-centred design and how does it produce better products?

User centred design means involving users at every stage of the product development process. This methodology is used to gain insight into products and how users interpret them, which helps to turn issues or haps into solutions.

It involves putting the user at the centre of the development process and helps designers and other team members to understand user needs, issues and concerns around a product.

We’ve highlighted how user centred design produces better products.

User centred design means the focus remains on the end user

Designers can easily find themselves falling into the trap of designing products for themselves or their client and lose sight of the end user and the issues that they may need solving.

By involving the target audience of a product from the very start, designers and researchers can have an on-going and open discussion with them which will make it easier to develop the product as time goes on. Rather than waiting until a product is released and having to make big changes, a company can get it almost completely right the first time around.

Focus groups and user interviews with the target market will give a team qualitative data regarding the needs of the user and their requirements from a product. You need to know that the target audience think it is better than something they already have, or that it solves a problem that no one else has yet been able to solve.

If you get your target audience to try a product, you will better be able to see first hand the struggles they have or listen as they discuss a product and ask questions. What do they want? What do they actually need? Do they want cheap? Do they want something that simply fulfils a basic task or something that is intuitive and high-tech?

Understanding what users want will mean you are likely to succeed even more from a commercial point of view. So whilst hitting a brief is obviously great, there is more to the design and production process than ticking boxes of a brief.

When doing focus groups or interviews, you might consider filming these so that you can watch sessions back and remind yourself points where a user struggled or found something particularly pleasing. Following feedback, you can then create more prototypes that build on the insights gathered in sessions, meaning you are constantly improving your product until it ticks both design brief boxes and user experience boxes.

For many businesses, a user centred approach may not seem like the most commercial choice. However, in the long run this method will help you to avoid potential bad reviews or bad sales that might happen as a result of the product not being anything like what a user needs or expects. User centred design allows you to pinpoint exactly what you need to provide for your customers and what they will pay for.

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Tim Spafford

Tim is a student who works hard to get a degree in finance and build a successful career in business consulting. Being a student and living in London Tim has a real-life experience in budgeting, saving, money making, traveling and having fun.