5 Principles of User-Centered Design

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778 300 Adrian

As Mitchell Kapor states in his Software Design Manifesto:

“If a user interface is designed ‘after the fact’ it is like designing an automobile dashboard after the engine, chassis, and all other components and functions are specified.” (Kapor, 2002)

The important questions in creating a user-centered design are: Who are the users? What are the main functions that the user will need? Why is the user using this particular software/hardware? Is the software/hardware accessible by users of different experience levels? What is the most intuitive way that the user could interact with the software/hardware?

One key issue that designers and programmers alike often forget (or neglect) is that interface design incorporates many different disciplines: hardware and software engineering, ergonomics, psychology, sociology, linguistics, computer science, etc. As such, the second important design consideration is integration of knowledge and experience from all of the HCI-related disciplines.

The third design consideration is that the system should be thoroughly tested before release to ensure that it contains no bugs that will inhibit its function. The quickest way to inhibit enjoyment is to create frustration over simple interface and navigation issues.

The fourth design factor is an issue of commodity: the interface and navigation of the interactive cinema model should be well suited to complement the functionality of the system.

The fifth and final design consideration is less quantifiable, yet important nonetheless. The idea is that the design should be pleasurable to use, incorporating visual and functional aesthetics.

In summary, here are five principles of user-centered design:

  1. Be clear on who your users are.
  2. Integrate the HCI-related disciplines.
  3. Be free of major bugs.
  4. Be well suited to the intended purpose.
  5. Be enjoyable to use.
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Adrian, or AJ, is the founder and Director of Technology of Pop Digital. He has spoken at tech conferences around the world, and published numerous articles about Agile methodologies, UX design, Information Architecture, and Web Development.

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