User-Centered Systems Design (UCSD) is set of “usability design” process focusing on usability throughout “the entire development process and further throughout the system life cycle”. It is based on the following key principle:
- User focus: The goals of the activity, the work domain or context of use, the users’ goals, tasks and needs should control the development.
- Active user involvement: Representative users should actively participate, early and continuously throughout the entire development process and throughout the system life cycle.
- Evolutionary systems development: The systems development should be both iterative and incremental.
- Simple design representations: The design must be represented in such ways that it can be easily understood by users and all other stakeholders.
- Prototyping: Early and continuously, prototypes should be used to visualize and evaluate ideas and design solutions in cooperation with the users.
- Evaluate use in context: Baseline usability goals and design criteria should control the development.
- Explicit and conscious design activities: The development process should contain dedicated design activities.
- A professional attitude: The development process should be conducted by effective multidisciplinary teams.
- Usability champion: Usability experts should be involved from the start of project to the very end.
- Holistic design: All aspects that influence the future use situation should be developed in parallel.
- Process customization: The UCSD process must be specified, adapted and implemented locally in each organization. Usability cannot be achieved without a user-centered process. There is, however, no one-size-fits-all process.
- A user-centered attitude must be established: UCSD requires a user-centered attitude throughout the project team, the development organization and the client organization.
The typical process flow of UCSD can be visualized as the following steps (based on ISO/TR 18529:2000):
- Pre-study and business analysis: It can be anything from a comprehensive analysis of work procedures, business processes, etc., to a brief statement or vision.
- Planning the user-centered systems design process: includes setting up the project with resources, activities, roles, methods, etc.
- Do iterative UCSD /Usability Design Activities: The usability design process approximately.
- Formal Summative Evaluation: It covers the usability of the resulting system, as opposed to the formative evaluations used in the usability design process to learn about details in the design .
- Introduce and Operate the System: includes installation, change management, user training, evaluating long-term effects and so forth.
The focus of UCDS is all about “changing the attitude among all professionals involved in the software development process” and these set of 10 principles are key for the “user-centered systems design process” which helps in giving “equal weight to interaction design, analysis and evaluation, combining interaction design, and usability engineering”.
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