6 Principles of User Centred Design You Must Follow

by | Sep 30, 2021 | Resources

So you have the perfect product idea. 

You have validated the product market fit, you have the perfect tech team on board and you have all the necessary resources to execute the project. 

But have you checked if your product’s design is user-centered?

What is user-centered design?

Simply put, user-centered design ensures that the user interface of your product is easy to use and as intuitive as possible. It is the in-depth analysis and execution of each element that your user sees, taps, clicks, or uses. 

It is a time-taking process but putting in the hard work while designing the UI/UX has huge long-term benefits.

No matter how good the coding is on a product, no matter how secure and robust it is, in the end, it all boils down to how easy it is for the user to navigate through your app and use its features.

So, how do you ensure that your product has a user-centered design?

silver imac on top of brown wooden table

You follow a certain set of guidelines to make sure that the product is user-friendly.

After building dozens of apps over the years, here are some of the key principles we follow when ensuring user-centered design:

Principles of user-centered design

  1. Understand your user’s needs well

No matter how good your solution is, if the design is not in line with the user’s expectations, it will result in a subpar user experience.

Another point to keep in mind is that the design should be user-oriented not designer- or developer-oriented.

For example, on Netflix, when you are interrupted mid-way, you are given the option to continue watching from where you left off as the default option. Imagine leaving a movie mid-way and having to find where you left off! 

While this seems obvious, it is a feature that could have been easily overlooked.

  1. Signifiers for discovering affordances in the product

The design should contain a good amount of signifiers to let the user know that there is an affordance here.

  1. If a product solves users’ challenging problems,
    • However, there is a lack of signifiers, which can lead to a bad experience for users as they will not be able to use the product’s main feature.
    • Loading too many signifiers to the design can overwhelm the user and can motivate users to dislike the product.

  1. Keep it simple!

There’s no point bombarding users with too much information. It’s best to ascertain the minimum amount of information that a user needs and display only that much. Let the user digest only the required amount of information.

More often than not, the more complex the interface, the farther away from solving a user’s problem a product is.

It’s important to keep in mind that users tend to scan all the information and not read everything during their first few uses.

  1. Complete transparency

As a rule, sharing every state of information can improve user experience.

Each and every state of action’s response, such as loading, success, and error/failure cases should be shared with the user. Not showing these details can lead the user to assume that your app is ‘not working as expected.

  1. Make it intuitive

Your product needs to be as easy to use and intuitive as possible. If a user has to put in even a bit of mental effort, it can be detrimental to your product.

Users won’t spend too much time solving a problem using your app if they can do so on their own. It is the product’s responsibility to make a user’s life easy and if it doesn’t do so, it’ll fail.

It is very important to consider the different stages of using a product :

  1. Understanding the affordability of the product and making sure the goal of the user and the result of using the product match 100%.
  2. Optimizing the actions that users have to act upon to reach their goal and have signifiers for better navigation towards it.
  3. Showcase the results of each action made by users, so the user understands where he is and how long it is going to take to reach his goal.
  4. The learning curve should not increase when using the product: think consistent design and a minimal learning curve.

  1. User Cognition and Emotion
  • This is one of the important principles to follow in the design process
    • Making sure the memory load for users is less. When a user navigates from page to page, the user flow should not force users to digest too much information. Instead, it is recommended to show minimal and only important information, which will result in a smooth cognitive process.
  • Every user action should result in a positive experience.
    • Design should engage and interact with the user, more like user-to-user interaction than machine-to-user interaction.
    • Using color advantageously
      1. Individual colors of all content will confuse the priority for users.
      2. A page that has too much red in it can be a turn-off for many people. So using colors in the right context is important.
    • Never let users assume the result of their actions. It’s best to display the current state at any given point in time (loading, error screens, etc) because if the state before and after the user’s action is the same, then the user might assume something is not working fine.
Tathagata Sen

Tathagata Sen

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