We hear all about user-centricity as approach to product design. But what are some of the other approaches, how do they work and are they better?
There are alternative approaches, such as experienced based design approach which builds on the UCD method. Teams consisting of designers and developers have acquired enough experience from previous projects that are similar. This works well when developing new features and functionality.
The user-centered design (UCD) approach works similar to design thinking. It is a method that helps inform design and the design process through iteration cycles and direct feedback from the target audience. Designs are created in various stages of fidelity which helps keeping costs involved low, and focus in each iteration on the main point. UCD is not the only approach, but the most common one to use, and provided the intended users are accessible to designers. UCD is not a guarantee to success, but it increases the likelihood of launching a product or feature successfully.
Self-focused design (or creative intelligence) is where designers create what they think works. This approach uses no user feedback loops at all, and is close to using no methodology at all or copying products of companies that have altogether a different strategy. This approach does not work well as it’s pretty impossible to emulate an entire user audience that’s different from you.
The user centered design approach works when designers have access to users. It should be used whenever possible especially when designing expert systems.
The UCD approach does not only inform the design, and development of products, but also makes sure that product strategy that might be set by other departments is aligned with product vision.
Designing with user centricity in mind helps focus on what people expect from the product, prioritise functionality, and keeping feature creep down.