In a digital environment moving toward more personalized experiences, there are unfortunately still some websites that prioritize its own objectives over a user-centered design. These sites mistakenly begin designing their site before considering how users will interact with it.

A user-focused approach, on the other hand, employs the exact opposite strategy. This way of thinking recognizes the need to think about the end user right from the beginning.

In user-centered design, the website is designed based upon a clear understanding of the user in an attempt to improve the overall user experience.

User-Centered Design

User-centered design, or UCD, is part of an iterative design process that prioritizes the user’s needs during each phase of the design process.

The UCD approach in web design traditionally involves four distinct phases, repeated several times over. To start, web designers attempt to gain a clear understanding of their users and their motivations in visiting their site. Once that is determined, designers can identify the most effective strategies to satisfy those users.

Now designers can move into their bread and butter: the design phase. Here, they can design and develop specific solutions for their users. This phase often begins with wireframing, then progressing to adding more detailed and creative design elements.

The last phase in each iteration involves evaluating the outcomes against user feedback in order to establish how the site is performing. The design team continues with further iterations until they are satisfied by the evaluation results.

Main Components of UCD

To maximize a site’s usability, there are a few essential elements that designers should take into consideration.

Visibility: Right at the outset, users should be able to determine how to navigate through the site and understand how to complete tasks.

Accessibility: All users, regardless of their capabilities, should be able to use the site. They should be able to find what they need quickly and easily. It is usually best to provide various ways for users to find information and navigate throughout the site.

Legibility: All text throughout the interface should be clear and easy to read.

Language: Users generally prefer short, direct sentences over lengthy blocks of text. It’s also important to avoid complicated jargon as much as possible and strive for simple words and phrases. This makes it easier for users to comprehend the content.

There’s no doubt that UCD improves the user experience. At the end of the day, it helps designers better understand users’ needs and preferences. This gives them the opportunity to optimize every touchpoint throughout the user journey. In this way, designing specifically for the user improves the site’s functionality and allows for a frictionless experience.

A user-centered design approach can be a valuable investment. It allows you to see first-hand what works in the context of your site. You will also see what doesn’t work and, more importantly, why it doesn’t work. All of which can help you design a site that is not only more user-friendly and accessible, but successful to both your user and your business.