22Nov 2022

Difference between UCD and UX (User-Centered Design Vs User Experience)

Numerous firms are being forced by the quick advancement of technology to evaluate their present products and methods of operation in order to replace them with more modern, user-friendly alternatives.

When talking about finding answers for both personal, consumer, and societal issues, corporations or design firms increasingly utilize the terms UCD and UX

But what do these terms really mean? 

Any interaction a person has with a product or service is referred to as the user experience or UX. Every component that affects this experience is taken into account in UX design, as well as the user’s feelings and how simple it is for them to complete their intended activities.

On the other side, UCD adopts a less sentimental stance and places more emphasis on the situational and contextual elements that affect how people engage with designs.

In this post, we’ll break down what each term means, the difference between UCD and UX, as well as the key ideas around each term.

What Is User-Centered Design (UCD)?

UCD and UX
UCD Concept – Image Source: Pinterest

Whenever we create a new product, we should carefully consider who it is designed for and how that person will use it. Without this insight, there is essentially no hope of designing a product that consumers would like. 

Frank Chimero famously said, “People ignore design that ignores people.” This phrase sums up the significance of user-centered design just well. 

Finding out in-depth information about the people who will benefit or interact with the product is the goal of user-centered design.

Too frequently, corporate objectives, glitzy features, and hardware or software technical prowess are prioritized throughout the creation of applications or systems. Each one of these design strategies disregards the end user, who is the key component of the whole process.

The philosophy of user-centered design is to put the user of the product—rather than the application itself—at the center of the design process. 

The key is to constantly consider the user’s needs and make an effort to study, develop, and create solutions that never require the user to consider what to do next.

User satisfaction becomes a priority, and each design choice is assessed in light of whether it adds value for the users. You may offer your items an emotional effect by using a user-centered design.

User-Centered Design Principles

Now that we’ve looked at what UCD is, let’s move on to the key UCD principles to consider while getting started.

The fundamental principles of UCD are designed to guarantee that usability is the primary consideration throughout the whole development process. If these principles are followed, a product’s UX will be fulfilled not just when it is first released but also during all phases of usage.

Here is a list of the nine essential design principles for useable systems, which may be altered to suit your particular interaction requirements.

1. Create Designs Unique to User Needs

Interactive computer systems cannot be isolated because they must enable users to carry out their tasks. Emphasis on providing help to users is essential for fostering their user- and task-centeredness. 

Simple Design Decisions
Simple Design Decisions – Image Source: Simple Thread

The developer must take into account the characteristics of the target demographic, the real-world tasks involved, and the designated environment during development, which encompasses the whole duration.

The product should also be appropriate for the setting in which it will be utilized the most.

A product’s usability and usefulness are reduced when it is designed to demand a lot of user effort, which ultimately violates the goal of UCD.

2. Maintain Consistency

Keeping the product consistent is crucial for preserving an ideal user experience. Consistency affects how people will utilize a product and how long it will take them to get familiar with it.

Users demand a system that is simple to learn and has clear criteria for this reason. Interface components should behave consistently.

In order to interact with the already-existing elements in a computer system, consistency will really begin in the design process. You may use a fresh design strategy to combat interactivity, but the most crucial thing is to consider how much it exacerbates the consistency problem.

It is crucial to maintain consistency across new features if the interface design has to be updated so that the user will continue to find it useful. This will change how people perceive your strategy and how long it takes them to learn.

3. Use Simple and Natural Language

In order to allow communication with the user, the system’s primary application has to provide appropriate interactivity. 

The user should only have access to information that is necessary for completing the work at hand since adding extraneous information just makes things more difficult for them. 

It is advised that the developer utilize straightforward language and terminology appropriate for the intended audience. This entails clarifying vocabulary, eliminating jargon, and only presenting information that is pertinent to the given job.

The utility of a product is eventually diminished if consumers are continuously given useless information. The user may execute the work without feeling overwhelmed or bewildered by the language’s simplicity.

4. Reduce User Effort

Reduce User Effort Concept
Reduce User Effort Concept – Image Source: SlidePlayer

Users prefer to focus on the work at hand rather than worrying too much or at all about the tool they are using or how it will interact with the established program. 

They experience more frustration while interacting with computers or other mobile devices that are compatible with the program. This is because they are taken away from the primary task.

They become less effective and more prone to mistakes when they put too much effort into understanding the operational component. 

This might be costly for a company that greatly depends on a task’s success. Frequent activities are required so that users don’t have to recall data from one system section that will be utilized in another.

Thus the product’s instructions should be easily accessible for the user to review. This theory lessens the need for needless effort and enables users to execute activities without misunderstanding.

5. Provide Adequate Feedback

An essential component of user-centered design is making products simple to understand and navigate.

Functional menus, clear scroll bars, user onboarding, and enough navigation cues are just a few of the ways designers make using a product simple and straightforward.

The program should allow users to complete their intended job while following a clear route across the program. 

There should be a clear home button or back button available in case they get lost or enter the wrong place.

6. Provide Intuitive Navigation

Intuitive Navigation Concept
Intuitive Navigation Concept – Image Source: Windows Blog

A skilled designer can anticipate potential friction points or places where a user might get stuck while using their system.

As a result, it’s best practice to offer tool suggestions, pertinent and straightforward pop-ups, and encouraging words as necessary. 

These functions enable consumers to know when they are on the correct path.

The language employed should be simple, linear, and task-oriented, and links to help sites should be prominently shown.

7. Let the User Take Charge

Most of the time, consumers are already aware of their demands. They need to be able to use a product with little to no effort and depend on the product’s assistance to take care of the rest. 

By removing the effort from the job, the user is given the ability to perform it quickly and independently.

8. Present the Information Clearly

When seeing information on a screen, the user’s ability to distinguish between various elements and data groupings depends on how the information is organized. The use of boxes, spacing, and visual coding skills may do this.

Additionally, the user should only get information that is required for the job at hand. 

Incorporating elements that are pertinent to the product but are not necessary for a particular job might bloat the user’s screen and increase ambiguity.

Therefore, developers should divide information into different sections so that users can quickly identify the various elements of a task.

9. Be Free of Errors 

The last principle of UCD focuses on reducing the likelihood of mistakes. Reduce mistakes by pointing users in the direction of the most effective path to success. 

Users’ feedback should be limited when required for the task in order to avoid mistakes. However, this shouldn’t be the case if doing so would restrict the options available to your users for completing their tasks. Make sure that the system checks data entry as soon as it is entered.

Products, for instance, should be able to take inputs that are extremely near to the ultimate result the user expected. The product should permit it if the user enters a mistake that is very close to the right answer.

These changes will again vary based on the product. In order to provide the consumer with the greatest experience possible, the product should always provide a solution if an issue does occur. 

To avoid the usage of codes, consider presenting error messages in straightforward language that highlights the specific issue and suggests a fix.

User-Centered Design and Design Process

According to the Interaction Design Foundation, “User-centered design is an iterative process that focuses on an understanding of the users and their context in all stages of design and development.” 

These phases or stages include:

General Phases of the UCD Process
General Phases of the UCD Process – Image Source: Interaction Design Foundation

1. Specify the Context of Use 

The designer must understand the demands of the ideal user before starting to create a product. The designer may get a general understanding of some of the difficulties these people have by monitoring their daily activities. 

In light of this, you need to determine who will use the product, what they will use it for, and how they will use it.

2. Specify Requirements

The designers can better understand what is most desired by them once they know who will utilize the product. 

Designers start by looking towards user-friendly financial solutions during this stage. This comprises the user objectives that the product must fulfill in order to succeed.

After developing and testing a strong design concept, the designers take into account any necessary business needs. 

The requirements should be addressed throughout time since gaining customer loyalty and boosting long-term income are the main objectives of most products.

3. Create Design Solutions

In this phase of the UCD process, ideas are generated, tested, and refined in response to user requirements and feedback. 

This step of the process may be carried out in phases, progressing from a basic idea to a finished design. It’s crucial to include consumers throughout this process so that the product may be adjusted as needed to satisfy their demands.

4. Evaluate the Design

At this stage of the UCD process, designers evaluate their product’s usability with real consumers. 

The designers can now better understand how people will really engage with the product and make adjustments to make it more user-friendly. 

What Is User Experience (UX)?

UX Concept
UX Concept – Image Source: Usability Geek

According to Nielsen Norman Group, “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

The goal of user experience is to have a thorough awareness of people, their needs, values, abilities, and constraints. It also considers the project management team’s corporate goals and objectives. 

UX best practices aim to enhance how users interact with and perceive a product and any associated solutions.

Key Principles of User Experience Design

The following universal UX design principles will help you make the best choices and put the needs of the user first:

1. User Centricity

UX design seeks to provide goods and services that address user issues. As a result, the user-centricity concept should permeate everything a UX designer does.

In its simplest form, user-centricity refers to prioritizing the requirements of the user and basing judgments on what you already know regarding them and what they desire from the product.

2. Consistency

Consistency is a more particular UX design principle that is vital to remember while creating a successful website. Consistency, in its widest sense, refers to the uniformity of designs and functionality throughout all of your sites and products.

Consistency Principle Example
Consistency Principle Example – Image Source: UX Collective

Users anticipate that items will be comparable to similar products they have previously used. Users will understand your product more quickly and have a better overall experience if it is consistent.

3. Hierarchy

Another crucial UX design idea is hierarchy since it affects how the user uses a product and how simple or challenging the process is.

Information architecture and the visual structure of individual pages and displays both relate to hierarchy. 

Typically, you want the most significant elements of your design at the top of the hierarchy since they are more visible and straightforward for the user to discover.

4. Context Is Key

Context plays a huge role in how people engage with your designs, which is one of the fundamental insights offered by the UX design method.

Good design is about interrogating systems not just creating beautiful chairs.” You must comprehend your target audience and the environment in which they will utilize your product. 

Context takes into account the environment wherein your product will be utilized as well as potential influences on the user experience.

5. User Control

In UX, user control may be included in many ways, but generally speaking, giving consumers control over their environment and actions improves their experience. 

Making it simple for users to go back and correct mistakes is a crucial component of user control. 

For instance, an Undo or Back button should be a vital feature for undoing an unwanted or undesirable action when a user begins creating a new activity or event.

User Control and Freedom
User Control and Freedom – Image Source: Nielsen Norman Group

6. Accessibility

All UX designers have a duty to comprehend what accessibility implies and to take it into consideration throughout the design process since it is essential to effective UX.

Making sure as many people as possible can use your product or service is what accessibility is all about. It involves providing for the requirements of those with impairments and comprehending how various settings or contextual elements may affect the user experience.

For example, the designer could use strong contrast to guarantee that text is readable for individuals with visual impairments.

7. Usability

The final principle of UX design is usability. Usability refers to how effectively, efficiently, and successfully a particular user can utilize a product or design in a certain situation. 

It goes without saying that usability is a key UX design concept since you can’t build a positive user experience if your product isn’t usable.

Bottom Line: Difference Between UCD and UX

Considering the definitions of various terminology and ideas covered in this article, we conclude that user experience is not user-centered design. 

Instead, user experience is an important component of user-centered design, and you must build engaging online and mobile experiences to keep consumers engaged.

Quality design is rooted in empathy, and the UCD approach excels at developing a comprehension of and sensitivity to the user.

Designers may make products that are likely to delight their consumers and hence need less time and money for redesign or problem-solving by including the consumer in the creative process.

On the other hand, it is never a smart idea to disregard user experience. The user experience of your product is crucial to growing and keeping your consumer base. If clients don’t appreciate using your product, it might damage your reputation and cause you to lose sales when they go to your rivals.

Because of this, making a financial case for UX is crucial for survival.

Acodez is a leading web design company in India offering all kinds of web design and development solutions at affordable prices. We are also an SEO and digital marketing agency offering inbound marketing solutions to take your business to the next level. For further information, please contact us today.

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Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan, Co-Founder, and Director at Acodez IT Solutions, who has a rich experience of 16+ years in IT & Digital Marketing. Between his busy schedule, whenever he finds the time he writes up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development. All thanks to his master brain behind the gleaming success of Acodez.

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