What is User–Centred Design?

Donald Norman coined User–Centred Design (UCD) back in 1986 with his book Design of Everyday Things. He suggested that design should always be focused on the needs and goals of the user. Whereas the aesthetics are less of a concern and usually take second place.

The core principles of UCD are accessibility, legibility, visibility, and language. Within the design process, evaluation methods such as surveys, interviews, user stories, and prototyping are paramount in order to identify experience issues early on.

Each iteration of UCD involves four phases:

  • context discovery,
  • a phase where the user's requirements are specified,
  • a design/development phase,
  • and an evaluation phase.

These phases are developed to ensure a proper experience for the user.


The difference between UX and UCD

User–Centred Design is a philosophy or approach to the design and development process. While User Experience Design the design of the value for the user, which must align both with the user and business goals.

Both UX and UCD are very similar, however, it can be argued that UX design is one specific application of User–Centred Design thinking.


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Geffrey van der Bos is an User Experience designer and Front End Developer.
Currently working in Stuttgart Germany, for Bitfactory GmbH.