June 29, 2015

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How to Craft User-Centered Applications?

Why design a web application that is a massive pain for end users, as they struggle with all the elements placed on it? The whole idea is to make the site super friendly for all, and make it easy to use. User friendly applications will not only increase the number of users of the application, but will also help in winning more business, and in the financial growth of the company.

Ways to Create User-Centered Applications

Let me discuss some ways that can help you create user-centered applications:

  • Factor in the users, right from the start: You can get basic procedures about how to start with a user-centered application with general information. But, is it enough to create a web application that is useful and usable? I guess you know the answer to this question. It is important to find out how target users use your application.

It is necessary to enroll users’ right from the beginning, by:

  1. Discerning their expectations; what they really wish to achieve from the application
  2. Making them an important part of the design process
  3. Witnessing to them at their workplace, and determining the assumptions. You can also carefully examine the goals, tasks, and workflows
  4. Drawing responses through paper prototypes, walk-throughs, card sorting, and various other approaches
  • Knowledge about users: As a developer, it is important to ask questions, as the answers act as a guide for crucial design and development decisions.
  1. What kinds of software, hardware, and browsers does the user make use of?
  2. What is the environment in which the user surfs the internet or works online?
  3. What is the hands-on experience of the user, when it comes to the internet, computers or mobiles?
  4. What is the user’s level of expertise in his or her domain?
  5. What is the learning style of the user?
  6. Are there any cultural issues with the user?
  7. In which language(s) does the user prefer to speak?
  8. How fluent are users in the language(s) they speak?
  9. What kind of information does the user need to absorb in order to better understand the application?
  10. Should the user possess any skill or knowledge pertaining to this application?
  11. How can the application serve the purpose of the user?
  • Design – Getting it going

The contrast between User-Centered Design (UCD) and the other methodologies is that UCD strategies are utilized to create straightforward models, mock-ups, or prototypes in part or on the majority of the designs (information architecture, graphics, information visualization, and interaction design).

Prototypes are utilized as touch-points with end users who continue witnessing that plain ideas and arrangements are on course to expected fulfillment from an end user’s point of view. The risk of building up an answer that doesn't work is consequently minimized.

Usability effort should concentrate on giving input on the acceptability to users of design solutions, while they are being produced.

  • Begin by planning stream structure and navigation to support the main tasks.
  • Produce models (going from straightforward paper mock-ups to intuitive computer-based models) to obtain user inputs on the extent to which proposed arrangements address the various issues. Getting this step right makes the potential result more substantial to users.
  • Design changes should be assessed from a user’s point of view. This should be done early and constantly amid the design process. Design arrangements continue to be enhanced until the requirements are met.
  • Examine user goals and tasks: Interact with the users to get an idea about their goals and tasks. This interaction must take place at their respective workspaces. The developer must know what kind of tasks the users need to do. Also, one has to be aware of their current working style. Knowledge of the users’ workflow is also an important factor. The discovery of any faults and errors by the user in the present context, is a great help for the developer.
  • Explore various ideas before the development of the final product: It is always good to have more than one option for the development of the final product. Feedback from users can be very helpful in the creation of an ultimate user-centered application.

Usability is key

One of the important phases in this process is to check usability to enhance the final product. Usability is the most important factor in the user-centered design process and it must not be neglected at any cost.

Conclusion

UCD is a general term for an ideology and methods that concentrate on designing computerized systems for end-users, and involving them in the design process. The different ways in which users can participate would be through the design process, usability engineering, and usability testing. The participation of users during the design and development process will lead to the development of more user friendly and user satisfying applications.

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