Understanding User Centered Design Process

Phase 1 - Discovery Phase

The Discovery Phase is the initial phase of a project's development cycle. Research is an essential part of this phases. In this phase research is done to obtain knowledge of the competition, the target audience, design styles, latest trends and marketing. This provides facts, in which to engage a strategy for design and execution.

User Centered Design, is never about personal opinions. All decisions that are made in the design are based upon the research and facts obtained. This ensures that the user is placed in the prominent position in the decision making process. CX or Customer Experience, is an important part of this research phase. User Experience is the relationship between the user and the product. This relationship translates into Customer Experience. CX is the emotional transition that transfers the user's feelings about a product to the relationship with the company.

This emotional connection between the user, product and company is the determining factor between a returning consumer or a one time consumer of a product or service. Consumer loyalty is driven by UX and CX.

Research - System Questions

Research is an integral part of the development process. I seek to find solutions to the following research and marketing questions.

  • How does the users use the current system?
  • Is the system accessible?
  • What is the system's purpose?
  • Is the system's purpose clearly defined?
  • Does the system match real world expectations?
  • Does the system assist in task completion?
  • Does the user drive the system or does the system drive the user?
  • Does the user have to work around the system to complete task?

Research - Market Questions

Marketing research ensures that the system is meeting the user's expectation.

  • What is the purpose?
  • Is our purpose clearly defined in the market place?
  • What is our market share?
  • Who is the target user?
  • Who is our competition?
  • How do we compare with our competition?
  • What draws users to our competition?
  • What can we implement to attrack our competition's users?

Phase 2 - Strategy Phase

The Strategy Phase involves the data obtained in the Discovery Phase. This data will provide real world information of the target audience. One of the first things that will be created in this phase, is the user persona. The Persona is never fiction based. It isn't something that is made up out of thin air. It is important to acknowledge that anyone who will be engaged with the product or service is a user and should be addressed in the persona creation through Use Case process charts.

Often times, we fail to take into consideration the support staff that will be assisting the user in ensuring a positive user experience. The user may only have access to the front end, but the support staff must be considered for the back end systems that they will be engaged with to ensure a positive front end user experience.

Several User Persona with various Use Cases, will help the team to maintain the user centered focus throughout the project cycle. Based upon the data gathered in the Discovery Phase, the persona is created. Not only should the team know who their competition is, but why the users are choosing their competition's product or service over the companies. If done correctly, demographic information will be a part of the research gathered to assist in defining the persona, with data driven accuracy. Presentation to other team members and stake holders should be conducted in the user's voice.

Defining the User

The Process - It's not about just making someone up.

  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Observations
  • Market Research
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Content Analysis
  • Site Analysis

The creation of a user persona isn't about just making up an individual from the development team's perspective. Persona's are created based off of research of current and potential users.

Once I complete the user research on the product and competition, I design personas that provide context of who the target audience is and their natural task flow process. This assist developers in developing user friendly systems, based upon the Use Case processes.

Alyssa Persona

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Alyssa use case page 1.

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Alyssa use case page 2.

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Phase 3 - Design Phase

The Design Phase is where all the visual design elements of the project is created. The visual design establishes a path for the user to follow, that meets their natural work flow process. Gathering data of the user's work flow process, is obtained in the Discovery Phase. When design is based upon facts, the elimination of personal preferences, conflicts amongst team members and lengthy discussion with stake holders are kept to a minimum. This allows for the project cycle to move ahead with minimal interruptions and delays.


Creating a natural path for the user to follow.

Icons assist in providing the user an easy to recognize path to accomplish a task. Icons compliment the system and visual design. Icon placement is hierarchical. They are system prominent rather than visual prominent.

When I create icons, I begin with researching the system and the user's task flow. My primary objective is to develop a visual path that will enhance the user's experience.

Material Design Icons

Material Design Icon for help with grey background. Material Design Icon for map with grey background.
Material Design Icon for send with grey background. Material Design Icon for shop with grey background.
Material Design Icon for settings with grey background. Material Design Icon for trash with grey background.
Material Design Icon for help. Material Design Icon for map.
Material Design Icon for send. Material Design Icon for shop.
Material Design Icon for settings. Material Design Icon for trash.

Line Icons

Line style icon for Digital Art. Line style icon for Fashion Art.
Line style icon for Fine Art. Line style icon for Sketch Art.
Line style icon for home page. Line style icon for about page.

Character Icons

Character style icon for STEM. Character style icon for Math.
Character style icon for Technology. Character style icon for Engineering.
Character style icon for Math. Character style icon for Careers.
Character style icon for K12. Character style icon for resources.

Symbol Icons

Symbols icon of abstract people. Symbols icon of abstract sun.
Symbols icon of food. Symbols icon of airplane.
Symbols icon of dolphin in water. Symbols icon of water park shower.
Symbols icon of castle. Symbols icon of bird.
Symbols icon of convertible. Symbols icon of jeep.
Symbols icon of car with fat tires. Symbols icon of bird character car.
Symbols icon of Santa Symbols icon of presents.
Symbols icon of toys. Symbols icon of tree.

Phase 4 - Execution Phase

The Execution Phase is the final phase of the project's life cycle. In this phase all the work in the Discovery, Strategy and Design Phases are executed to a tangible product or service for the user. Several teams are involved in the Execution Phase. Developers will be coding the system to ensure that the system matches the user's natural work flow process and runs efficiently and affectively. Marketing and Advertising will be executing the promotion of the new product and service.

It is in the Execution Phase, that all systems that the user will be engaged with, provides a positive user experience. This phase may include both front and back end systems that make up the product or service that the user will be engaged with. Pre-Launch Usability Testing should occur to ensure that the user's experience with have a positive emotional transition towards the company. This will assist in ensuring consumer loyalty and future product sales.

The System

Putting the user in control

We've all been there, some systems take longer for a task to be accomplished, than if we had just done it by hand! There is a natural correlation between the frustration level of the user and the emotional connection with the company. When frustration level is high, trust and confidence in the company is low.

The primary purpose of a system, is to enhance the user's experience and provide them with the ability to accomplish their task more efficiently and affectively.

Real world system development, engages all four phases of the project's development cycle in a collaborative, user focused process. The level of success that occurs during the product launch is a direct reflection of the collaboration and detail that was taken during the four phases.

  • Front and Back End System Development
  • Marketing and Promotional Launch
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Pre-Launch Usability Testing
  • Product Launch