02 February 2009 by Robert Douglas on artifacts | planning | process | resources | rightmove | ucd

Planning I: Which UCD methods to use

What is it?

The UCD recommendation engine. Okay, so the name is horrible. It conjures up images of enormous computational machines with punchcards and geeks in white labcoats.It was one of those cases where the first name given to it stuck.

It's much, much simpler than that though. It's three simple questions to make sure we include users in the right way for any given project. As with so much in the UX field, a lot of this is just common sense.

UCD Recommendation Engine

UCD Recommendation Engine (click to embiggen)

How do I use it?

So, the basic questions with respect the upcoming project, are:

  1. Do we understand our users' needs?

    Hint: Unless you've done reasonably extensive user research earlier, the answer will be 'non'. But that's not necessarily a bad thing - it means you have the opportunity to get out and talk to your users.
  2. Does the functionality exist already?

    This can be your own product, a competitor's, or something from an unrelated industry. For example: A login flow - you can test working version of your own login, Amazon's, Facebook's or any other sites that users of your product would likely encounter.
  3. Are there multiple, or complicated, solutions?

    This time the answer will most likely be yes. But it's good to ask so you know you're focussing your (likely scarce) user involvement resources.

Answering each of these questions we choose from the menu of UCD methods listed below it. You'll notice the recommendations part is broken into two:

  • Recommendation A are the preferred methods to use; 
  • Recommendation B are the bare minimum.

Choosing between them we ask 'How important is this project to the business?' - the answer should determine how much resource (time and money) you're willing to use.

Earlier versions

Of course, this diagram also went through a few iterations. You can see these here (click to embiggen).

What next?

When we've decided which methods we want to use, we look look up the costs of these UCD methods.