User-Centred Design Approach

When we design a product or a service our focus should be on people which will be using our solution. Otherwise, we are assuming their needs and potentially walking into a trap. We can avoid mistakes by using user-centered design approach. There are 5 steps which we can use. They go in a circle until we deliver a satisfying experience. First, you assess the situation, and ask questions like: "Is your website responsive?", "How is your app performing?", "Which feature is less used?", etc. Then you work on what users really need from a service or a product. Once you collected feedback and know exactly what users need, you have to sit down, prioritize features and then work on a design. Now, to make sure we have hit the spot, we need to review our work among users and if there are problems, refine the design.

We will explain those 5 steps on an example.

Let's say our client has started a brand new clothing line and needs to penetrate the market.

1. Assess the current situation

To assess situation we need to have a clear picture of users, who they are. You need to think about channels through which you will reach your users, because why waste time on a fully functional web shop while users prefer to shop in the store. User experience is a whole package, not just a website or a mobile app, we need to make sure that all channels through which we can reach potential users look and feel the same. Also, you have to connect all the channels and measure their efficiency so you can change strategy if some of them are not working, or finally kill them.

2. Understand your users

Before you do any design or feature prioritization it is important to understand your users

You need to know things like:

  • How do they prefer to access the internet?
  • How much time do they spend interacting with a device at a time?
  • How much time do they spend online using a device?
  • What features would be critical for providing a satisfying experience?
  • What is there in your offer that frustrates them at the moment and could be done better?
  • What devices do they use to access the web?

If you have more than one user persona – you’ll need to answer these questions about each user group.

Get out and talk to people so you can have a "higher-level" picture, follow the trends and investigate behavior.

3. Prioritize

Once you understand your users and know which channels will be used (mobile app, web app, social media...) it is time to prioritize features. User research will show you what users need but you also need to consider business requirements. Don't forget that your job is to ensure that business requirements deliver a satisfying experience. User experience and business requirements should never be in conflict. User experience is essential but it's no good if it doesn't deliver business results. Compromising is a key part of getting things right. Also, keep in mind that complexity in early product lifecycle can be frustrating for new users, and also a major drawback. A great MVP (minimum viable product) can offer a way better experience than a complex one.

4. The context of use

Are we ready for action? Not really. There is still one big thing that we need to take into consideration. It is the context of use. People are going to use the device in lots of different places and situations (bed, sofa, car, work, event, coffee shop...) so we need to make sure that we can reduce distraction and that the user is focused on the task. There are 3 main behavior categories which are putting us in the context of use:

Microtasking: WWhen the user interacts with their device for brief but frenzied periods of activity Local: When the user wants to know what’s going on around them Bored: When the user has nothing better to do and is looking to be entertained or otherwise diverted

Keeping these categories in mind can make it much easier to design for the user’s needs and focus on what makes mobile different from other access platforms.

5. Design and review

Now, action! Sketch and prototype in the early phase. Talk with potential users and ask them for feedback. If everything is fine, implement and keep track of results, if not, iterate rapidly and ask them again until you hit the spot. Remember, your job is to ensure that business requirements deliver a satisfying experience.