This page is our how-to guide for using User-Centred Design (UCD). For more details, please see D 2.1 User-Centred Design Methodology
What is UCD?
UCD is “a philosophy and methods, which focus on designing for and involving users in the design of computerized systems” (Abras, Maloney and Preece, 2004). Design is driven and refined through iterative cycles of development and user evaluation.
A generic UCD cycle might look like this:
Our UCD framework puts forward an actionable and systematic approach for UCD techniques to be used throughout the lifetime of a project. We propose a method of UCD actions: these are research actions, where a UCD technique is deployed to answer a question about the design.
What do we want to know?
Questions that may be answered and refined through UCD actions:
- What are the opportunities for a new technology to positively impact a given set of users in a given context?
- What is the design space of possible technologies?
- How might a particular design approach impact users in a given context?
- How does a particular design instantiation impact these users in this context, in reality?
- What are the consequences of different designs for users’ efficiency, effectiveness, satisfaction, ways of thinking and acting, relationships with each other, etc.?
- How do these change with time, experience, context, and type of user?
- Where are possible usability problems in a given design, and how might they be mitigated or corrected?
Possible UCD actions
UCD actions where UCD techniques may be applied to answer these questions might include:
- public events, such as hackathons and workshops.
- interviews, questionnaires, targeted development sections with small numbers of developers.
- Periodic review of feedback from developers, e.g. via bug reports, feature requests, etc.
- Observation and interviews with personnel interacting with prototype technologies.
How we applied it!
Here we illustrate how this might be deployed over a three year period, drawing on our experience in RAPID-MIX:
UCD actions must be tailored to suit the specific scenarios, through asking questions such as:
- What are we trying to find out about the product or prototype?
- Who will be the users engaged in this session?
- What techniques will be used?
- Who will run and document this action?
- What activities and/or materials need to be prepared in advance?
- What documentation will be collected?
Responding to these questions, the following techniques might be deployed:
|Method||Purpose of study||User group||Data output||Cost||Stage cycle|
|Ethnographic interviews and observation||Assessment of user needs and insights; Identify design opportunities for SMEs; Interpret user behaviour||Small groups; SME stakeholders; End users||Quantitative and qualitative||High||Early stage and throughout the project|
|Online surveysOffline surveys||Assessment of user needs, insights and feedback||Large groups; End users||Quantitative and qualitative||Medium||Early stage and throughout the project|
|BrainstormingBootleggingVideo brainstorming||Assessment of user needs and insights; Ideation, identify scenarios and design themes||Small groups; SME stakeholders||Qualitative||Low||Early stage|
|SketchingStoryboarding||Assessment of user needs and insights; Ideation, identify scenarios and design themes||Small groups; SME stakeholders; End users||Qualitative||Low||Early stage|
|Cultural probesTechnology probes||Explore users’ culture, attitudes towards environment and use of new media||Small groups; SME stakeholders; End users||Qualitative||Medium||Early stage|
|Design workbooks||Collect and document ideas and perspectives||Small groups; SME stakeholders||Qualitative||Low||Beginning of project|
|Lo-fi prototyping||Assess prototype compatibility with SMEs production roadmap||Small groups; SME stakeholders||Qualitative||Low||At initial stage and throughout project|
|High fidelity prototyping||Testing prototypes with SMEs and assess their compatibility with SMEs production roadmap||Small groups; SME stakeholders; End users;||Qualitative||High||Mid point in the project|
|Usability tests||Identify usability problems; Benchmarking and validation of MIX interfaces||5 to 12 participants; End users||Quantitative||High||Mid-to-final stage|
|Hacking, Do-It-Yourself and Appropriation||Identify new affordances in existing technologies and unexpected uses||Small groups; End users||Qualitative||Low||Final point in the project|
|Logging||Identify patterns of use, usability and technology problems both for API and MIX products||Small groups; SME stakeholders||Quantitative and qualitative||Medium||Mid point and final stages|
|Focus groups||Evaluation of prototypes with end users; extract quantifiable UX metrics||Small groups; SME stakeholders; End users||Qualitative||Low||Final stage|
|Longitudinal studies||Studying technology engagement over longer periods of time||Variable size groups; SME stakeholders; End users||Quantitative and qualitative||High||Throughout the entire project|
Abras, C., Maloney-Krichmar, D., & Preece, J. (2004). User-Centred Design. In Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Sage Publications