User-centered design (UCD) is a product design philosophy that emphasizes designing the product around how the user can, wants, or needs to use it, rather than seeking to change the user’s behaviors to fit the product.
We consider a user’s needs from the very beginning of the product cycle and continuously validate our assumptions about their behaviors and problems. Using investigative methods like ethnographic study, contextual inquiry, and prototype testing, we validate and refine our understanding. The whole user experience is considered; we seek to understand the user’s full context rather than just the task(s) they would complete by using the product.
We conduct the design work iteratively, testing and evaluating design options early and often. Users are directly involved in the design process. Through observation and interviews, we seek to gain empathy for our users’ goals, and use what we learn to ideate and evaluate design options and to inform design and development decisions.
Perhaps the most influential writing done on UCD is Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things (Basic Books, 2013) and Jeff Gothelf’s Lean UX (O’Reilly Media, 2016).
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