User-centered design is not a new concept (at least in technology terms where new means “last week”) but despite the clear importance of UCD; it can still be a hard sell to clients. Here are some good reasons for taking a UCD approach that may help change your client’s mind about UCD:
1. It Leads to Better Quality Products
A product that produces something built on user input is likely to be higher quality and achieve the purpose that it was intended for. In turn this means higher profits (higher quality will normally equal higher sales volumes) for your clients.
2. It Makes Development Cheaper
Author/Copyright holder: Paul Veugen. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0
If you discover that there’s a problem during sketching, wireframing or even prototyping – it’s going to be much cheaper to fix it in those phases than once your development team have put 10,000 hours into building the first (and possibly fatally flawed) release of that product.
3. It Helps Meet Deadlines
If you are clear about what’s needed thanks to user research; your developers can be clear about how much time they need to deliver what’s needed. If you have an endlessly changing scope as you discover new and cool ideas yourselves during development; you’re going to find meeting deadlines nearly impossible.
4. It Leads to More Profitability
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You make more sales of easy to use products. You spend less time supporting easy to use products. You get fewer returns, bad reviews, etc. of easy to use products. Wherever that you may look in an organization you can find a case that UCD will save money or increase sales (which leads to more profits either way).
5. It Drives a Commercial Launch
If you let your users determine what’s needed from a product then you know exactly what you need to launch that product. There’s no endless discussions internally about adding a little more or taking something away for the deluxe version. A user driven approach to design and development drives commercial launch of products. You know when something’s good enough; it meets the criteria set out by your users.
6. It Drives Customer Satisfaction
Author/Copyright holder: Gordon Ednie. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Unless your friends are particularly weird it’s unlikely that you will ever have heard them complain about something being easy to use. That’s because stuff that’s easy to use is never a PITA. Customers want things that make their lives better not things that make their lives more difficult. If you need to improve customer satisfaction with a product then adopting UCD is the easiest step in the right direction.
UCD should be an easy sell to clients. The business case for its adoption is overwhelming. However, UCD is not a magic bullet. It must be properly implement and applied to have the biggest benefits. If you adopt UCD but still let the marketing team dictate the outcomes… you haven’t really adopted UCD except as a half-measure. You have to let the results of UCD speak for themselves and then you can reap the rewards of them.
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