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User-Centered Design (UCD)

In broad terms, user-centered design (UCD) is a design philosophy and a process in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of an interface or document are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. User-centered design can be characterized as a multi-stage problem solving process that not only requires designers to analyze and foresee how users are likely to use an interface, but also to test the validity of their assumptions with regards to user behaviour in real world tests with actual users. Such testing is necessary as it is often very difficult for the designers of an interface to understand intuitively what a first-time user of their design experiences, and what each user's learning curve may look like.

UCD models and approaches

Models of a user-centered design process help software designers to fulfill the goal of a product engineered for their users. In these models, user requirements are considered right from the beginning and included into the whole product cycle. Their major characteristics are the active participation of real users, as well as an iteration of design solutions.

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Source: Wikipedia
URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-centered_design