3rd Semester 48 hours Test, June 2010
Synopsis: User Centric Design (UCD)
User Experince (UX) is about how a product (object, website, software, hardware, mobile device etc.) works on the
outside, where a person comes in to contact with it and has to use it. UX quality is measured by the level of
satisfaction and average user gets from the product. Good UX has good function, good design, tailored to a typical
user for the particular context it is being used in. A good UX encourages site users/customers to ,,convert“ to the
next level (i.e. subscribe to the site or buy a product). Conversion rate is a common way of measuring the
effectiveness (ROI) of a user experince. How many visitors sign up for your newsletter, how many casual browsers
are „converted“ in to active buyers etc. A bad UX drives people away from your site, makes them feel stupid, even
angry or frustrated.
User Centered Design (UCD) is a project approach that puts the intended users of a product or site at the centre of
its design and development. It does this by taking the user into account every step of the way as the product is being
developed. The development and involvement of the users are carried out in an iterative fashion, with the cycle
beinig repeated until the project‘s usability objectives have been attained.
Basic UCD workflow: 1) Concept, 2) Research, 3) Prototype, 4) Test, 5) Build/amend 6) Testing/ building until right,
7) Launch, 8) Post Launch Testing.
Five Planes Model: The Elements of User Centric Design
UCD has to take all stages of the
products development in to
consideration. When it comes to
software interface (mainly concerned
with tasks) and hypertext system
(mainly concerned with information)
the The Five Planes Model provides a
conceptual framework for talking about
user experience problems and the tools
to solve them. The Five Planes is in
many ways similiar (even the same) as
the Core Process Workflow we were
introduced to at the 1st semester, and I
have used in all my previous school
projects. The five planes are built from
3rd Semester 48 hours Test, June 2010
bottom to top, from an abstract level to a more concrete level. Decisions made on the lower planes can have ripple
effect all the way up the chain. At the same time decisions made on upper planes can sometimes force reevaluation
(or valuation for the first time) at lower planes. Decisions can therefore have ripple effect in both directions.
The Five Planes of UCD are devided in to: 1)
Strategy (define sites & user centric goals, do
research (Interviews, Focus groups), create
Personas), 2) Scope (decide content & functional
features, create user stories & scenarios), 3)
Structure (develop site structure, information
architecture, use Card sorting & user stories), 4)
Skeleton (wireframes, navigation, placement of photos, text, buttons etc.) and 5) Surface (visual design, concept,
colors, mood boards etc.). Work on the next plane shall start before the work on the previous plane is finished.
User Centric Strategy
Before we start UCD we need to develop a user centric strategy. Ask ourselves: “Do we know what the problem is,
and does this (product, website) solve the problem for those that will use it?” In order to define users centric goals
we ask: “What should the user be able to do?” We then find a way to improve efficiency. This basically entails:
Helping people work faster and helping them make fewer mistakes. In order to do that we define the average user.
Defining the average user consist of three steps: 1) Create attributes list (Primary goals for visiting the website,
Roles: job seeker, information seeker, client etc., Demographics: sex, age, income, single, married etc., Experience:
education, tech know-how etc., Organizational: type of job, type of company user works for etc. 2) Prioritize and
define (Which attributes are more important for the user centric goal and the site goal?), 3) Describe segments or
user groups to do research on. When this preliminary research is done it is time to choose the research techniques
User Centric Research – 7 methods
Research techniques can be devided in to qualitative (insight) and
quantitative (validation) research. Qualitative research is about
discovering new things with a small sample size. Qualitative
research doesn’t prove anything, since you’re talking with a limited
number of people. But it’s very valuable at uncovering insights
that you can then test or prove. It’s open-ended and often reveals
things you didn’t know. Examples of qualitative research are: 1)
Focus groups, 2) User interviews, 3) Field studies, 4) Card sorting
and 5) Usability testing.
Quantitative research is about testing or proving something with
a large sample size. Quantitative research is better at telling you
what is happening (e.g., your log files tell you that 35% of site
visitors never reach a product page), and qualitative research is
better at telling you why it’s happening (e.g., usability testing
shows that some users don’t understand the concept used in the
site’s navigation). Quantitative is more factual and scientific in its nature. Good example are: 6) User surveys and 7)
Site traffic or log file analysis.
3rd Semester 48 hours Test, June 2010
Another way to look at user centric reasearch is to study what people say (goals & attitudes they have) versus what
they actually do (behaviors). Qualitative and quantitative research and what people say versus what they do
research support different research goals and complement one another.
Personas and User Stories: Tools for
User Centric Design
When research is finished we create personas as a way
of understanding the user. Personas are descriptions of
typical users. By building a fictional representation of
users that is based on real research and observation,
we are able to empathize with them and understand
their needs . Personas can be Marketing-targeted
personas that model purchase motivations or
Interactive personas that are modeled toward usage
behaviors. Personas must be actionable. “What are
their goals, attitudes and behaviors?”, are the basic
questions we should ask ourselves.
When creating personas we should draw them up as real as possible. The persona description should include: Photo
(not posed but natural) – Name (normal one) – Age – Location (for cultural and sometimes behavioral differences) –
Occupation – Biography (important information, facts, anecdote, stories that makes the persona more real).
In many cases it might also involve details like: Education – Salary – Motto – Online/ offline activities – Loyalty
towards a brand – Tech/ Computer knowledge – Social network behavior – Motivation to use brand – User goals.
Effective personas must accurately depict a number of specific users of your product or website. To achieve that
goal, personas must be supported by research. There are three primary personas, based on the type of research and
analysis performed: • Qualitative personas • Qualitative personas with quantitative validation and • Quantitative
By creating stories about the personas we are able to able to cast a more meaningful vision of the project. We
create a list of single line stories that include the role of the user and the activity they wish to perform. After
creating a list of user stories we prioritize them according to the importance they have to our project. Then we
combine the user stories into scenarios or more complex pathways.
One example might me: “As a student of history researching for my thesis I can use Search feature to find out if the
website has any information on my subject. If the search results are not satisfying I can fill out a Contact form to ask
the sites author for advice. I can also send him/ her/ the site an email to empathize the importance of my request.”