The Importance of a User Centered Design

How do you feel when you use an Apple product? Most will say that they love using their iPhone, iPad, or whatever Apple device they have. Apple products are designed to be intuitive and create great experiences. According to the iOS 7 developer library, Apple’s latest operating system embodies a design with three themes: deference, clarity, and depth. These three themes focus on the user and helps us understand and interact with content. With all its products, Apple understands the importance of a user centered design.

On the flip side, have you ever ridden around on a Segway? You may have seen some tourists doing a city tour on these electric vehicles. It can be fun for a little bit, but then you might start feeling a bit exposed to traffic and the pavement. Steve Jobs once commented, the Segway was supposed to make us rethink and redesign the way we built our cities. The Segway was an engineering marvel; unfortunately, it wasn’t designed to live up to its potential. Riding a Segway can be dangerous and in an ironic twist, the product caused the death of James W. Heselden, the owner of Segway after he rode it off a 30-foot cliff in 2010.

Ok, so what is the common theme between Apple and Segway? Both companies used technology and design to create a product, but Segway didn’t consider the user when designing its product. The Segway can’t be ridden on the road, will not keep you dry if it is raining, and you can’t even carry anything while riding one. Even though the technology was interesting, people didn’t know where they could really use it. The Segway taught us a lesson on the importance of creating a user centered design with your application, product, service, etc.

What is User Experience and What Does It Mean?

With that in mind, how do you get the most out of your design interactions? To understand this, you will need to understand what the user experience or UX means and its importance. The user experience focuses on people, thinks beyond digital solutions, and is how technology creates a holistic experience that ties all the points that a user comes in contact with together. UX is not wireframes, an interface or UI, usability, and not just about technology. UX initially began as something that “encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products” (Nielsen Norman Group). The term has since evolved and now considers the holistic experience around a software product. In addition, user experience design and experience design are melding together since artifacts and their environments are becoming increasingly integrated. The user experience involves the offline as well as the online experience and spans over digital, physical, and service-based interactions.

User Experience Design Best Practices

To design a great experience that is centered around the user, we recommend checking out some of these best practices:

  • Reframe the problem in human terms

  • For your research, check out what fringe users are doing (ex. Why is the user the fastest to learn the software?)

  • Gather your insights and find themes and structures that the problems fall in

  • Try to come up with solutions to these problems and start creating prototypes


The key to creating a great user experience or UX is understanding the user. We hope you found these best practices useful. Do you have anything to add to our list? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.


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