Chapter 2. What Is User-Centered Design?

“Ease of use may be invisible, but its absence sure isn’t.”


The most common and misguided presumption I find, especially within the developer community, is that the practice of usability is just subjective. These developers believe that usability decisions are arbitrary and can be decided by simply applying their own personal preference. Additionally, many of these decisions are made for reasons that have nothing to do with users. You better believe the CEO’s current missive lands on the home page of the company portal. Who cares if it was written in lime green and has a dancing chili pepper on top? Therefore, if you’re developing an application with a team or within an enterprise environment, you might be challenged when trying to implement user-centered design.

Perhaps you feel like you’re the only member of your team who cares about the user’s experience. Your colleagues or peers might roll their eyes when you talk about the importance of good layout and design. I realize this can be a long and lonesome journey, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to spread sound, user-centered knowledge to disarm even your most vocal critics. One way to do this is by educating your team or organization about the value of user-centered design. To do that, we need to understand what user-centered design is; and most importantly, what it is not.

UCD Is Not Usability

I realize that my interchangeable use of user-centered design and ...

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