To be a designer you need to be optimistic about coming up with new solutions to a problem. I think that the big challenge is to believe that it’s even doable. And the larger the challenge, the more essential optimism is to drive you forwards.

Have you heard of user-centric design as a problem-solving method? User-centered design (UCD) is an optimistic approach to invent new solutions. It starts with human beings and ends with the answers that are tailored to their individual needs. When you understand the people you are trying to reach, and then design from their perspective, you come up with unusual answers. UCD is both how you are thinking and what you are doing. It is all about building a deep empathy with the individuals you’re designing for. Generating heaps of ideas and building a bunch of prototypes. Sharing what you’ve got created with the people you’re designing for. Failing and trying again. And finally putting your innovative solution out in the world.

Get impressed by the international INDEX:Award: “Design to Improve Life” in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is the world’s most sponsored design award within the humanitarian field. The prototype of effective plastic water filter, LIFESTRAW (Denmark), which costs $3 to produce won an award. The designers of this project didn’t challenge the standard of potable water or the privatization of water. They just proposed a solution for a selected time and area.

How To Design In User-Centric Way?

Dr. Donald Norman, a cognitive science researcher was the first to explain the importance of user-centered design. He said that design decisions should be based on the needs and wants of users. The value system of user-centered design contains:

· empathy,

· optimism,

· iteration,

· creative confidence,

· belief in making,

· embracing ambiguity,

· learning from failure.

User-centered design creates a unique chance to design together with communities. User-centered designers deeply understand the folks they’re trying to serve. They create lots of ideas and make innovative new products rooted in people’s actual needs.

To design in a user-centric way identify the people who will use the product, what they’ll use it for, and the conditions under which they will use it. Observe people’s lives, hear their hopes and needs, and get smart about your challenge.

User-centered design provides a common language for scientists, stakeholders and end users. For example, Lunar Rover Mission of NASA integrated user-centered design techniques. NASA also from user interviews, user observations in context, and wireframing.

User-centered design goes through six phases:

• Specify the use context and users’ needs;

• Specify business requirements;

• Build design solutions from rough concept to finished design;

• Evaluate designs with usability testing;

• Implementation — develop and deliver the product;

• Deployment — the final product is evaluated, as consumer needs change.

Methods Of User-Centered Design Research

What is special regarding UCD is that it is scientific and above all values experiment, iteration, learning from failure and research. For instance user research is all about talking with people about their challenges, goals, and limitations. However there will be moments where you’ll need more context, history, or data than a man-on-the-street style interview can offer.

Speak with folks you’re designing for directly through personal, group or expert interviews. There’s no better way to perceive their hopes, desires, and aspirations. Write down the feedback you hear and use this chance to ask more questions and push your ideas further.

Responsive principles of user-centered design:

· clear understanding of the users, tasks and environments;

· evaluation-driven design;

· considering the general consumer experience;

· involving the client within the design process.

Impact And Opportunities Of UCD

User-centered design has a human bias in its DNA. By beginning with humans, their hopes, fears, and needs, the designers tend to discover what’s most desirable. But that’s only one lens through which we glance at our solutions. Once the designers have determined the solutions for the target community, it is time for technical expertise. Also, they need to figure out the way to make the solution financially viable. Finding balance is completely crucial to designing solutions that are successful and sustainable.

When the goal is to get impactful solutions out into the world, you can’t live in abstractions. You have to make the solutions that are desirable, workable, and viable.

User-Centered Design Examples

A great example of a UCD website is Carters.com — a website to shop for children’s clothing. On the site, navigation helps the user promptly reach the desired section by specifying a child’s age (for example, Shoes: New Born — 3 year). At the same time, this navigation helps new customers by quickly directing them to the desired section.

Instacart.com is a perfect showcase of adapting a website for the people with visual impairments. There is high contrast version of the website. Designers thought about the users and introduced the small details that improve the UX. For example, when a user clicks Add a product to the delivery list, he or she can immediately select the quantity in the interface. Also, the user always sees the number of already selected goods.

In addition to convenient navigation, the Yelp service for online reservation visually displays the number of free tables at the restaurant you choose. The map with its location always remains visible for the convenience of users. The button “Start order” allows the possibility to start the order with one click.

Trello may be a good example of UX design — it doesn’t have a lot of useless features. Everything on the home screen is easy to grasp and works exactly the way it ought to. There is no confusion over the way how to move tasks from one board to another. The interface design is intuitive and people using the app for the first time don’t have any hassle navigating the various pages.

Anyone who has used Duolingo understands the simplicity of the app. By finishing one task or a game, you’ll be able to move on to the more advanced categories. Incorporating the addictiveness of a mobile gambling app and using it to teach the users new languages is a brilliant idea. And the amazing UX is what keeps people coming back again and again.

With their recently added ability to book a room instantly, having a clean-cut mobile presence has become a necessity for Airbnb. Just like their innovative website, their mobile app is uncomplicated, smooth, and easy. The users put in where they want to stay, what dates, and how many guests they’re going to have. And in the twinkling of an eye, they get a range of homes that meet their needs, right at their fingertips.

How UCD Changes The Design Process And Customer Behavior

User-centered designers test, fail and try once more. This method combines analysis, interviews, generative strategies, and tools like group action. UCD, for the most part, develops an understanding of the user’s desires through the inclusion of users at all stages of the designing and testing. We rely on feedback from everybody in the group. Iteration keeps design process responsive.

UCD influences the ultimate success of the product release. Microsoft is one of the best examples of benefiting user-centered design. For a long time, it was a technology-driven organization. Now, the corporation has changed its strategy to be user-centered. They have adopted an authentic design development process that focuses on users.

Their UX had become more and more advanced, and this was negative for the users. So, Microsoft decided that user-centered design should be a part and parcel of their code. This software giant found hope in team-building and a creative development process. The user-centered design resulted in business success. Both the business and user goals were successfully developed by working with end users.

Identify Problems In UX Before They Emerge

In user-centered design, you have to be comfortable with the idea of failure and celebrate the learning which it brings. You try something out, maybe pushing too far, or you want to learn from an experiment. And your half-baked idea didn’t quite work out how you expected. But in some ways, the learning that came from that unexpected failure was more valuable than the success might have been.

When it comes to implementation, that’s when you don’t want quite as much failure to happen. Because the process starts getting more expensive. You’ll be putting all your effort into making something. But even then you need to be constantly experimenting and refining. So with user-centered design even in case of failure you continue to prototype and improve your UX. With user-centered design, you will not have avoidable rework or even worse a big failure right at the end. Because UCD identifies problems before they emerge.

This article originally posted on Product Tribe blog.

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