User-Centered Design Process – Complete Guide

An effective user-centered design requires a clear comprehension of users’ needs and what tasks you need to undertake in order to meet them. It also involves the integration of user feedback when it comes to refining the design and requirements. Users have to be actively involved in the design evaluation process to ensure the design fulfill their needs. The main objective of this kind of design is to enhance usability.

User-Centered Design Process

Consider Users

The most important aspect is thinking about what the users need. You have to create elements that support users when they need to carry out various tasks. The design should be both task-oriented and user-centered. During the development process you should think about the characteristics of the specific population that you are targeting. Consider the tasks they carry out in the real world. These tasks will guide you to come up with the most efficient design.

Give User Control

This design allows users to take charge when it comes to choosing the information they require at a particular stage. Your design should give them the freedom to choose what they want to use to support every task. It is important to limit the number of limitations that the users face while they are carrying out a particular task. You need to identify ways to simplify the tasks that users have to carry out several times.


A user-centered design has to be reliable. This means that you should limit the number of learning requirements that users have to fulfill. The interface elements that you use on your site should be consistent. A user should know what to expect the next time they visit your site. If you intend to add new elements, it is important to ensure they are related to the existing ones to make it easy for users to learn how to use them.

Limit Errors

This design limits errors. It is important to offer as much guidance as possible on the system to reduce the number of errors that users can make. Your role is to guide them as they try to attain their objectives. When applicable, you can limit their responses in order to prevent errors. But this should not limit their options in terms of how they can complete a certain task. If a user makes a mistake, they should see a clear error message in a language that they can understand. The error message should clearly identify the problem and recommend a solution without blaming the user.

Natural and Simple Interaction

The interaction between user and system has to be both natural and simple. It should be influenced by the task that a user intends to engage in. This means that you should only provide the information a user needs to complete a current. If you add irrelevant information, the dialogue process becomes complex, making it difficult for the user to meet their needs.

You should only include the kind of language your audience understands. Difficult words should be defined to ensure every user translates them in the same way.

Limit Required User Mental Effort

A user should be able to focus on the task they are currently undergoing without thinking about how the tool in use operates. Limit the amount of mental effort required. If users find an interaction complicated, they are more likely to feel frustrated and get distracted from the task they are required to undertake. This means that they might make more mistakes, which can be dangerous in situations where a user is involved in safety related tasks. If a business largely relies on results obtained from a particular task, any mistake can be costly.

Your design should focus on simplifying tasks especially if users have to carry them out on a regular basis. The design should allow users to apply the information they have acquired from one element of a system to carry out tasks in another part. It is also important to provide clear instructions. The instructions you provide should be noticeable and easy to access when they are required.

Offer Sufficient Feedback

A user want to know that they task they have completed has been successful and this is why it is important to offer sufficient feedback. A design focuses on providing feedback. If a user completes a task, they should be able to see that there is some progress on the system. However, it is important to make sure that the feedback you give is relevant to what the users are doing. The users do not need to know about a system’s internal processes. You only need to let them know that the information they have entered is being processed and they are going to move to the next stage within a specified period.

Offer feedback at different stages of the action. At the initial level, a user should know that they have used the controls on the system as required.

Provide Efficient Navigation Systems

A user-centered design ensures that users know exactly where they are on a system every time they are using it. You need to provide relevant information to make it easy for users to navigate around the system. Make sure all the sections are titled and have page numbers or scroll bars that users can use to establish their exact location on the site.

You can also include navigation maps and a history of all the sections that a user has visited on the system. Users should be able to move from one window to another with ease. However, it is important to ensure that the navigation information provided is relevant for the task level.

If a user accesses a function by mistake they should be able to cancel or undo the action on the system. This will make it easy for them to use your system.


Usability is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when you are coming up with a system. You need to apply a user-centered design that helps users to meet their needs.


Jessica Miller
Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.
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