Significance of UCD, IA and UE (User centered utility and usability)

I do not know whether you know it, but initial integration of UCD and Usability Engineering, Design and Planning into the development process of applications from web applications to software to GUIs of hardware and other devices will affect the business, project and efforts in many ways.
UCD is an approach developing interactive system that focuses particularly on developing systems with a high utility and excellent usability.
Each product, each business possesses explicit goals that we can and should achieve.
There are a lot of benefits …
… UCD and Usability can improve:
  • Development efforts
  • Product and market qualities and revenue
  • Quality of work and increased productivity
  • Optimized return of invest
  • Satisfaction and loyalty of users, consumers and customers
  • Conversions of systems, processes and tasks
  • Employee productivity and efficiency (software, intranet and web apps)

… UCD and Usability can decrease:
  • Frustration, disappointment and irritations
  • Maintenance costs of processes, applications and software
  • Training and support costs

The coin of usability, utility and joy of use or joy of interact has to two sides. On the one side you see standards and principles based on common rules and conventions. On the other side are individual aspects based on A) groups, types, gender, … and B) tasks, goals, job, responsibility … that brings us to the main point THE INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE of each of people and of PARTICULAR SITUATIONS.

How can we concentrate on these experiences and situations?

User experience analysis can make a claim at any phase of a development and product cycle, but it’s most cost-effective and efficient to integrate UCD and UE during the early phases of any development process from the traditional development process to the agile development processes of software or any other application.

We have to understand and describe the client, customer, user and the business, the market and the opportunities. A good way to do this is by develop …
  • Personas
  • Storyboards
  • Work flows
  • Contentogram

As IAs and UEs we have to define …
  • Experience
  • Mental pictures
  • Interaction
  • Strategy
Initial integration of information architecture can or should be a strategic tool for steering product development.
Information architecture should be the framework and template for the experience the user gain by our interfaces.

From my point of view it’s very important that the interface fits the users’ individual and situational understanding during we plan and design the application and fill in the details.
The dynamic interplay of specific professional and cultural demands and the situation in which these occur determine the appearance that an interface with a particular function must have and for which that application needs to have a particular capacity.
Believe it or not but even complex applications can be easy to use … when the interface works how users expect it to – it fits the users’ mental picture / mental models.

If you or your company is interested in learning more about UCD, UE and IA, call me, read my article on boxes and arrows or check these hints:

Contextual Design. Defining Customer-Centered Systems by Hugh Beyer

The Humane Interface by Jef Raskin

Absolute “must have”: Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

The Elements of User Experience von Jesse J. Garrett