What is the secret behind brilliant design? 

Some websites and software platforms are better than others. They are easier to use, look better and we don’t feel dread every time we need to complete a task using them. But what is the secret behind them? 

Some websites and software platforms are better than others. They are easier to use, look better and we don’t feel dread every time we need to complete a task using them. But what is the secret behind them? 

This brilliance doesn’t happen by luck. It is by carefully applying the principles of user centred design (UCD).  

Hello user-centred design 

UCD is an iterative process, which as the name suggests puts the user right at the centre. By having complete understanding of what the challenges, goals and pain points they face you can work towards a solution to delight them.  

The iterative approach to building means you can continue to get user feedback on prototypes and concepts and fix anything that isn’t working.  

Building a culture of feedback and collaboration  

The feedback loop is a secret power and one you should call on whenever you can. It is a real luxury when designing digital products - think about designing a billboard, the only feedback you can really get is after it is printed and up for the world to see. By then it is too late to do anything with it.   

But with digital products you can spend time with your users to get their emotional reaction. This emotional reaction helps to understand exactly what their feedback means. For example, when testing your new app the feedback could be “it is too slow” so you spend hours trimming the speed. However, the problem really was that the user wanted to access certain information faster and placing it on the homepage would solve the issue. A much quicker and simpler solution.  

This emotional reaction is also useful for testing physical products. For example, when providing feedback on a pushchair someone may say they want it to be lighter, but what they really mean is more manoeuvrable. You can only learn that by spending time with them and watching their frustration as they try and fold the pushchair in a million places to put it in their car. Then you would see weight isn’t the issue, manoeuvrability is.  

Want to know more about UCD?

Our lead designer, Andrew Cox, recently did a webinar on his specialist subject user centred design and why it works. You can watch it on demand here. We also have this useful guide about how to talk about user centred design to get everyone in your organisation on board. 

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