Thursday, March 29, 2007

User-Centered Design: The Foundation to User-Friendly Applications

User-centered design (UCD) is the foundation. Consider this - you can’t begin to build a house without knowing certain specifications such as how many square feet, how many stories, etc. Before building begins, it usually starts with a concept or an idea manifested into some sort of a blueprint. From there, a concrete foundation is poured. Building can’t begin without having a place for the dwelling to rest upon. The foundation serves as a guide for the builders to follow to know how large the structure will be.

I use this analogy to prove a point: UCD is crucial in developing user-friendly, useful software, websites and web applications. Without it, your applications will only be tech-centered and fail to gain the acceptance of your intended audience. It will have many features and functions when only two or three are needed to help the end-user accomplish their tasks and meet their objectives. It's hardly solid ground to begin building your application. There's nothing for the end user to rest their faith on, knowing that the application built for them as built with them in mind.

I wish I wrote this, but here's an article I found that takes and in-depth look at UCD. The article describes what it is, why it is important and how it is different from other design methodologies. After reading the article, I think you'll find that UCD methods have contributed to many of the advances in technology we see today. Industries that have applied UCD methodologies have created solutions that bridge the gap between human capabilities and technological advances.

At the end of the day, isn't that what we want? To create usable technology to leverage our capabilities and make life easier?

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