User Centred Design at Spot SolutionsJames Saucier
User Centered Design (Human Centered Design) is a design and development approach that keeps users’ needs and goals as the focus of the design process. Solutions begin and end with the end user in mind. By involving human perspective in all phases of the process, a product is produced that is usable, efficient, and satisfying for the user.
The design phases used at Spot Solutions typically look like the following:
- Research and Discover
- Gathering and analyzing user data
- Empathy maps
- Prototyping and Development
- Lightweight (literally) paper prototypes
- Testing and Validation
- Sample user usability testing
- Guerrilla usability testing
- Heuristic based evaluation
The design process is an iterative cycle where product quality improves with every iteration. A design is treated as a hypothesis – every cycle of testing either validates the hypothesis or provides insight to correction. New iterations are driven by the information learned from previous cycles. Corrections are made rapidly by making use of lightweight prototypes that can be thrown away cheaply.
Although not a strict requirement, projects which make time for the above design iterations tend to benefit greatly in terms of return on financial investment as well as the likelihood of user adoption. Further, systems designed with the human centered approach enjoy:
- Increasing the productivity of users and employees (intranets).
- Reduced training and support costs.
- Focus and consistency.
- Improving user experience.
- Reducing discomfort and stress.
- Make an emotional impact on users.
- Providing a competitive advantage, positive experiences are shared among users.
At Spot Solutions we understand that it can be difficult to convince stakeholders that project budget should be allocated to design. Often the design process is discredited by technically oriented team members who may see the design process as intangible and fluffy. If there is one activity worth conducting in order to convince stakeholders of HCD’s value, consider usability testing.
Usability testing will provide highly actionable observations that your team can use to improve the product. A small usability test conducted with <5 users will be enough to provide meaningful information about the impressions most users will have. By including all team members as observers:
- Product managers receive a reality check on how the product is used in the hands of real users as well as be given ideas for new features.
- QA receives ideas for new test cases.
- Developers gain user empathy – perhaps clearing up why that silly UI change was so important.
Human Centered Design is a powerful competitive advantage. Spot Solutions develops and designs the right product for your users – get in touch with us today.