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User Research In Human-centered Design

January 24, 2016

Human-centered Design is the process of designing tools, such as websites or apps user interface, from the viewpoint of how it is to be understood and utilized by the users. Instead of requiring users to adapt their behaviors and attitudes to understand and use the system, a system can be developed to support the users existing beliefs, behaviors and attitudes as they relate to tasks that the current system is being designed to support. The outcome of employing user centered design in system design is the product that delivers a more sufficient, user-friendly and satisfying experience for the users. Human-centered Design can be used to approach different challenges including products, services, spaces and systems.

What Is User Research In Human-Centered Design

User research motivates design decisions in human-centered design by offering an understanding of the end users. Basically, different teams, people or organizations manage every step of the design process, making user research an essential activity. Human-centered Design is a common term in product development. This is because, if it is implemented correctly, the Human-centered Design process yields services or products that perform exceptionally well and delight the users. Important to innovative Human-centered Design is user research. The critical goal for user research in Human-centered Design is identification of the design directions and scope based on the emerging needs for new functionality and design. Practitioners apply user information in determining new project definition, for instance, what type of components should be incorporated in the system. User research in human-centered design starts with research questions that are based on the sequence and flow model.

Human-centered Design is a repeatable, practical strategy to reaching innovative solutions. Think of these research methods as a step-by-step manual to unleashing user creativity, putting the users you serve at the center of the design process to bring solutions to difficult problems. Too often, computer systems are designed with the focus on business goals, amazing features and technological capabilities of software or hardware tools.

User Research Methods In Human-Centered Design

Designers utilize multiple research methods established by other subjects, adapt even more and design their own for research within the process of Human-centered Design. This method presents users with a chance to explore multiple research methods that are being used by the design professionals. Over the years, user centered design has received a lot of attention. Different methods and tools are now being used within institutions to enhance the understanding of users and the task requirements necessary in supporting the processes of evaluation and design.

Different User Research Methods Of Human-Centered Design

The most popular user research methods in Human-centered Design include:

  • Field Studies
  • User Requirements Analysis
  • Interactive Design
  • Usability Evaluation
  • Task Analysis
  • Focus Groups
  • Formal Heuristic Evaluation
  • User Interviews
  • Prototype (without User Testing)
  • Surveys
  • Informal Expert Review
  • Card Sorting
  • Participatory Design.

These user research methods in Human-centered Design model places the users as the first priority compared to other factors affecting the development process of the product. The Human-centered Design research methods have characteristics that can be acquired by understanding the user and how the product is utilized to solve future problems. For this reason, the Human-centered Design process needs extensive research and knowledge about the user behavior.

The methods of a user centered design process vary among professionals, but generally, the components are identical. User centered design involves elements of research with an iterative design process that allows users to analyze designs and test with other users. The concept is generation of concepts for the design by liaising with potential users, and then authenticates the resulting designs via real-world tests with the same users.  Common methods that are familiar to designers include paper prototyping, task analysis, card sorting, usability testing, creation of personas, and contextual inquiry.

The main purpose of human-centered design is optimizing the user’s experience of a process, system or product. Understanding the viewpoint users bring to the system allows the designer to design a system that will meet the user’s needs. User centered design requires an understanding of the inspirations and motivations of the targeted audience. Influencing alternative methods during the conceptual and research phases of the project can help practitioners empathize with these dimensions of user attitudes and visualize creative solutions. Ultimately, user research in Human-centered Design helps in transforming challenges into solutions.




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Innovating for People Handbook of Human-Centered Design Methods Spiral-bound – January 1, 2012 by LUMA Institute http://www.amazon.com/Innovating-People-Handbook-Human-Centered-Methods/…

Williams, Ashley. 2009. User-centered design, activity-centered design, and goal-directed design: a review of three methods for designing web applications. In Proceedings of the 27th ACM international conference on Design of communication (SIGDOC ’09). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1-8. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1621995.1621997