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Design for users

Design for users

Designing for users is a process of creating products that provide meaningful and contextual experiences. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.

1.1 User-Centered design

User-Centered design

1.1.1 What is UCD

The term “User-Centered Design” was first invented by design theorist Donald Norman,  the practice started to evolve around late 1980.

Donald Norman is widely regarded for his expertise in the fields of design, usability engineering, and cognitive science. He is also a co-founder and consultant with the Nielsen Norman Group.
“User-Centered Design means working with your USERS all throughout the project.”

UCD is the process where any product, such as the user interface (UI) of a website or an application, is being designed from the perspective of how it will be understood and used by a human user.

UCD outlines the phases of both design or development life cycle based on a deep understanding of WHO will be using the product, their tasks, and environments.

Rather than forcing users to adapt their attitudes and behaviors in order to use a system, a system itself should be designed to support its intended users’ existing beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

1.1.2 Why designing based on UCD is important

The goal of UCD is to generate products that have a high degree of user’s usability.

By designing with a constant focus on the user. Designers are no longer free to express themselves in their work for any means, on contrary, they are forced to focus on what the user will like to see or behave.

By designing with focusing on user’s behaviors and goals, the design would be more usable and accessible. The result of a design based on UCD is a successful user experience.

1.1.3 UCD Process

The International Usability Standard, ISO 13407, specifies the principles and activities that underlie user-centered design:

  • The design is based upon an explicit understanding of users, tasks, and environments.
  • Users are involved throughout design and development.
  • The design is driven and refined by user-centered evaluation.
  • The process is iterative.
  • The design addresses the whole user experience.
  • The design team includes multidisciplinary skills and perspectives. (Source)

UCD process can change based on product, business or users. but we would list general steps that can be used:

  • Specify the context of use: Identify the people who will use the product, what they will use it for, and under what conditions they will use it.
  • Ask yourself: Who are my targeted audience?
  • Why will they use the product?
  • How will they feel when using it?
  • When and where will they use it?

By answering these questions, you can start developing personas, user stories, and user scenarios. And that is what you would learn in UX Book.

Specify requirements

Identify any business requirements or user goals that must be met for the product to be successful.

  • Ask yourself: What do you want your product to be?
  • What are the specific functions your product will have?
  • What problems you are trying to solve?
  • What are your business goals?

Create design solutions

This part of the process may be done in stages, building from a rough concept to complete design.

Evaluate designs

Evaluation - ideally through usability testing with actual users - is as integral as quality testing is to good software development.

Create design solutions and evaluate them

The most important part of the process is the iteration. When creating design solutions, evaluate them with users and iterate.

Specify requirements
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1.2 Ergonomics and human factors

1.2.1 User experience is the modern name of ergonomics

User experience may be a modern term that has become widely known, but it has been with us since human time began. UX Design has its roots in the ancient science of ergonomics (ἔργον, meaning “work”, and νόμος, meaning “natural laws”) — which was trying to establish set of principles that were making work more convenient and efficient.

To provide evidence, you can look back to the machine age, The machine age is an era that includes the early 20th century, it would be from 1880 to 1945. Considered at the peak time in the time between the first and second world wars.

The machine age philosophy was best represented by people like Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford, who both developed new ways to make human labor more efficient, productive, and more comfortable. But they were criticized for dehumanizing workers in the process and treating people like cogs in a machine. Still Taylor’s research into the efficiency of interactions between workers and their tools was an early precursor to much of what UX professionals think about today. UX Booth.

1.2.2 History of Human Factors and Ergonomics

Ergonomics and human factors have been a scientific discipline since the late 1940s and have evolved to become an activity embedded in many organizations throughout the UK. It has developed changes and improvements to workplaces, technologies, and systems in order to make human lives better and more usable.

Human factors focus on the design of tools and devices to best align with human capabilities. Ergonomics can be applied on any device humans use from the earlier cars to the latest versions of smartphones and laptops.

Human factors are at the heart of user experience. It is a science-based discipline that gathers knowledge from other subjects such as anatomy and physiology, psychology, engineering and statistics to ensure that designs complement the strengths and abilities of people and minimize the effects of their limitations.

Human factors aim to achieve safety, effectiveness, delight, and usability to the pleasure and experience of using and interacting with products or services to enhance people’s lives.

We encounter the work of human factor specialists in many types of technologies that we use every day from the red button on our TV. remote to new interfaces in our cars to the design of information as we move through an airport. The work of ergonomists has made our technologies more usable and our experiences more positive.

1.2.3 What is Ergonomics

According to Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors:

Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products, and systems so that they fit the people who use them.

It applies to the design of anything that involves people – workspaces, sports and leisure, health and safety.

Ergonomics aims to improve workspaces and environments to minimize the risk of injury or harm. So as technologies change, so too does the need to ensure that the tools we access for work, rest and play are designed for our body’s requirements.

1.2.4 How to best come up with Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the outcome when applying the combination of three items( Human factors, Machine design, and Task design).

Human Factors

Factors that control the user’s comfort and ability in order to accomplish a task within a workplace. ( Dimensions, forces, movement, senses).

Machine Design

How to bring out best design that provides seamless usage for the user ( Providing function and arrangement, servicing, reliability, manufacturability).

Task Design

Task that user has to accomplish. The goal is to do it in the best way, it depends on ( Management of time, ease of use and number of things to do at once).

Photo Credit: Learneasy

1.3 Human-Computer Interaction

1.3.1 What comes then!

According to UX Booth, Many early wins in the design of computers for human use came from PARC, a Xerox research center founded in the early 1970s to explore innovations in workplace technology. PARC’s work in the mid-70s produced many user interface conventions that are still used today—the graphical user interface, the mouse, and computer-generated bitmap graphics. For example, PARC’s work greatly influenced the first commercially available graphical user interface: the Apple Macintosh.

With the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and then the Web in the 1990s, many of these trends converged on each other. Graphical user interfaces, cognitive science, and designing for and with people became the foundation for the field of human-computer interaction (HCI).

1.3.2 What is HCI

Human-computer Interaction is the study of how people interact with technology. Technology is a common word that represents all cases in which people use technological systems. It may be when people are working on computers, using mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) or even when using sensors.

HCI is based on the entire understanding of the psychological and cognitive abilities of users.

Human-Computer Interaction studies the different possible ways users can interact with devices in order to design devices or systems that best align with human abilities.

1.3.3 What is the difference between Ergonomics and HCI

Ergonomics and HCI are all about studying human abilities and all the factors that would affect his ability to work either it was environmental, physical or psychological effects.

These effects would impact the work efficiency that the user is working on.

Both of them seek for enhancing those effects, make workplaces more effective and minimizing any harm that would affect users.

The primary difference between Ergonomics and HCI is that HCI concerns about people interacting with specific computers or mobiles rather than any other type of machines or tools. 

Ergonomics, on contrary, concerns about all the machinery or devices people would interact with.

One other difference is that Ergonomics studies all the aspects related to the physical abilities of users and the mechanical usage of hardware tools attached to computers such as mouse and keyboard.

On the other hand, HCI studies all the aspects related to psychological usage of computer and its software programs such as how to create files and rename them in a faster way.