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User-Centred Design (UCD)

User-centred design can mean many things to many people (see our note about design for usability). For us, it always means understanding users and their needs, rather than simply talking about them, profiling them or describing them without benefit of first hand experience.

Our overall approach consists of the following activities:

  • User research - observing and interviewing users; developing personas
  • Conceptual modeling - how the product or service will be presented to users; prototyping
  • Usability evaluation - usability reviews and user testing from prototype to final design

While the most effective application of UCD will be from the outset of a project, substantial improvements can also be made at later stages.


Increased: Reduced:
 • user satisfaction
 • sales and upgrades
 • staff motivation
 • development effort
 • support incidents
 • maintenance costs

In fact, in a study of return on investment Jakob Nielsen reported the average spending on usability was about 10% of a project's budget, while the average improvement in usability was measured at 135%.


User research:

  • User profiles and personas
  • Task analysis
  • Affinity diagrams
  • Attitude surveys
  • Card sorting
  • Video highlights of interviews

Usability evaluation:

  • Heuristic/expert evaluation report
  • Usability research plan and report
  • Design recommendations
  • High quality usability highlights


  • High level conceptual models
  • Detailed conceptual models with abstract or visually-complete views
  • Menu hierarchy / information architecture
  • Web site wireframes


Effort can range from two days (about £1,700 plus VAT) to several weeks for very large projects. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Keywords: user-centred design, user-centered design, usability, user experience, user research, user observation, user interface design, information architecture, consultancy, interaction design, user experience design, card sorting, cluster analysis