User-centered design puts user needs at the heart of the entire software development process to ensure that products solve real user problems.
By engaging users to research and test new solutions, businesses that take a user-centered design approach reduce the time, cost, and risk of developing new software products.
What is it?
User-centered design is the process of putting user needs and problems at the heart of software design and development.
The process begins with understanding user needs before prioritizing features based on value to the user, technical feasibility, and business viability. After prioritizing features, user-centered design involves prototyping and testing these features with users in an iterative way.
What’s in it for you?
User-centered design of software products isn’t new, but many businesses don’t fully understand its value. Many organizations still favor feature development over user-centered design, which can increase costs and increase the risk of developing a product that isn’t fit for purpose.
There is immense business value in taking a user-centered design approach early in the software development process. Numerous studies have shown that businesses that prioritize design increase revenue and customer loyalty. And focusing design on the experiences users receive offers significant returns, too. Research by Forrester found that, on average, every dollar invested in user experience brings 100 in return — an ROI of 9,900%.
What are the trade offs?
The biggest risk associated with user-centered design is failing to do it, which can lead to users rejecting the features you’ve spent time and money developing.
With user-centered design, however, you can quickly identify features that have little or no value for users before you invest any resources in them, helping you reduce development costs. Although user-centered design requires some upfront investment, the effort and cost involved in researching and testing products with users are relatively small compared to the total cost of delivery.