Don’t get Confused: UCD vs UCSD


(Originally first published on July 4, 2014 at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140702070019-9377042-don-t-get-confused-ucd-vs-ucsd/ )

Also, this article is a part of the title UX Simplified: Models & Methodologies by Samir Dash (ISBN: 978-1-3115-9110-4 / ASIN: B00LPQ22O0 ).  Available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LPQ22O0/


In my last posts I discussed about Usability Design and User-Centered Design (UCD) and User-Centered Systems Design (UCSD). But many confuse between these two. So in the following I am trying to differentiate these two:

UCD vs UCSD

UCD is differs from the UCSD in the following areas:

  1. Goal: The goal of UCSD is more on the process than the user so as to make the final product/system more usable. UCD rather focuses more on “users” of the product and not the design process. More focus is spent on understanding the user and their need.
  2. Process vs. Techniques Set: UCSD is about system development where as UCD is mostly a set of tecniques and process sets to be used with in UCSD
  3. Perception: The DNA of UCSD is about changing the mindset of the professionals in the development process so that the designing aspect of usability can be put into practice freely and with higher priority. The UCD process is not about the changing perception about the priority of the design in the whole process.
  4. Broadness: UCSD covers the whole process that includes the areas which are even not part of “designing” whereas UCD can be seen as a subset of UCSD focusing of the “design process sets”.

UCD Models and Process

There 3 different models that support UCD in varying degrees and follow the ISO standard Human-Centred Design for interactive systems:

  1. Cooperative Design: This involves designers and users on an equal footing.
  2. Participatory Design (PD): Inspired by Cooperative Design, focusing on the participation of users
  3. Contextual Design: “Customer-Centered Design” in the actual context, including some ideas from Participatory Design.

All these UCD models involve more or less a set of activities grouped into the following steps mentioned below:

  1. Planning: in this stage the UCD process is planned and if needed customized. It involves understanding the business needs and setting up the goals and objectives of the UX activities. Also forming the right team for the UX needs and if needed hiring specialties fall into this step.
  2. User data collection and analysis: This step involves data collection through different applicable methodologies such as user interviews, developing personas, conducting scenarios , user-cases and user stories analysis, setting up measurable goals.
  3. Designing and Prototyping : This involves activities like card sorting, conducting IA, wire framing and developing prototyping.
  4. Content writing: this involves content refinement and writing for web and similar activities.
  5. Usability testing: This involves is a set of activities of conducting tests and heuristic evaluations and reporting to allow refinement to the product. However Usability Testing can have its set of steps involving similar activities such as planning , Team forming, testing , review and data analysis and reporting.

All these are similar to most of the steps that fall under Usability Design as UCD can be seen as a subset of process with in Usability Design.

So many processes: What is where?

After going through multi relation models in all these processes and sub process discussed in this post and the previously discussed posts, it might be little confusing to visual all the overlapping and dependable process sets. So here is a simple representation diagram that roughly shows the overlapping relations:

 

(c) 2013-14, Samir Dash

 

 

Usability Design and User-Centered Design (UCD)


(Originally first published on July 2, 2014 at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140702070557-9377042-usability-design-and-user-centered-design-ucd/  )

Also, this article is a part of the title UX Simplified: Models & Methodologies by Samir Dash (ISBN: 978-1-3115-9110-4 / ASIN: B00LPQ22O0 ).  Available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LPQ22O0/


The Usability Design is roughly a subset of the UCSD process that matches the “Do Iterative UCSD” step of the UCSD process.

The usability design outlines the steps in the development process involving usability design aspects. The process can be divided into three main phases:

  1. Requirements analysis: This step is synonymous with planning and analysis phase of typical software development life cycle(SDLC).
  2. Growing software with iterative design: This is the design and testing phase and development phase of typical SDLC.
  3. Deployment: This is same as deployment phase of typical SDLC.

User-centered design (UCD) is a set of design processes in which “the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of a product are given extensive attention at each stage”. It is characterized as a multi-stage problem solving process involving designers who take the lead responsibility in foreseeing and solving the usability problems the users are likely to face while interacting with or using the system/product. UCD focuses on understanding the behavioral aspect of the user interacting for the first time so that the user’s learning curve in using the system can be evaluated in order to optimize and reduce it. User-centered design philosophy emphasizes on optimizing the product around “how users can, want, or need to use the product, rather than forcing the users to change their behavior to accommodate the product”.

Constantine and Lockwood define UCD as :

‘. . . loose collection of human-factors techniques united under a philosophy of understanding users and involving them in design’. . . ‘Although helpful, none of these techniques can replace good design. User studies can easily confuse what users want with what they truly need. Rapid iterative prototyping can often be a sloppy substitute for thoughtful and systematic design. Most importantly, usability testing is a relatively inefficient way to find problems you can avoid through proper design’. (‘. . . loose collection of human-factors techniques united under a philosophy of understanding users and involving them in design’. . . ‘Although helpful, none of these techniques can replace good design. User studies can easily confuse what users want with what they truly need. Rapid iterative prototyping can often be a sloppy substitute for thoughtful and systematic design. Most importantly, usability testing is a relatively inefficient way to find problems you can avoid through proper design’.

Putting it straightforward UCD is all about 4 factors which are mostly related to the end user :

  1. Needs of users
  2. Limitations of users
  3. Preferences of users
  4. Business objectives of the product.

This helps in achieving the following benefits:

  1. User satisfaction through more user friendly product experience
  2. Increase in customer /user loyalty.
  3. Making the product more relevant and valuable for the user
  4. Product / system is more value added as users

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(c)2012-13 : Samir Dash. All rights reserved.