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October 31, 2016

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Is User-Centred Design really the answer to everything?

Reading design and marketing blogs and websites you could be forgiven for thinking User-Centred Design (UCD) is something new and revolutionary.


UCD is apparently a methodology that will solve any design problem, boost brand performance, cure warts and create world peace.


User-Centred Design is an approach that puts user behaviour at the core of the development process. It is powerful but it’s not new. It’s just been given a shiny new hyped-up label as brands have entered the digital age.


The train line map you saw on the way to work this morning is based on the radical design ideas of Henry Beck for the London Underground in 1931. Realising passengers were more interested in how to get around than in geography, he created the mapping system still used almost universally.




One limitation of UCD is that it can constrict innovation. While UCD has been good at improving the ergonomics and functionality of mobile devices, do you think it would have resulted in the development of text messaging… how many users were wanting or trying to write messages with their phone?


So before hopping on the UCD bandwagon it’s worth remembering that while it’s got a shiny coat of paint, it’s still the same reliable vehicle underneath.


And don’t assume it’s the only way to travel.

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