Review: User-Centered Design – Why and How to Put Users First in Software Development

A chapter from the book ‘Software for People’ [1], this paper [2] provides an overview of the activities and artefacts of User-Centered Design (UCD) methodology. The paper is very broad in its focus, describing everything from 1985 usability literature to state-of-the-art design activities.


In the introduction the authors take the iPhone as an example. I am reminded of Marc Hassenzahl’s theory [3] that it is necessary to think about the ‘Why’ before ‘How’ and ‘What’. What is described below represents a step forward from only focusing on features, however, it is not explained what the benefit is. Why was the new interaction design so good?

“It was not for providing new functionality that made the iPhone a huge success […]. Quite the contrary: the iPhone even offered less functionality compared to many smart phones at that time […], it’s interaction design being the primary innovative achievement.

In my own experience, the interaction design of the iPhone allows the user to intuitively interact with the device, almost without a learning curve. This is important because it gives the user a feeling of being competent and in control, instead of being overwhelmed as with so many interactive devices.


While reading the rest of the chapter, I got so much inspiration and new ideas, I decided to review each section in a separate post to keep some clarity. Each post that refers to this paper is listed below, I will add the links gradually as I finish each section.

Next: in part 2 we are going back to 1985 with Gould and Lewis.

2.1 You are not the user

4. User Centered Design Activities

4.2 Analysis

4.3/4/5 Design, validate, deliver

5 Case Study

[1] Software for People: Fundamentals, Trends and Best Practices (2012) Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg ISBN-10: 3642313701

[2] Wallach D, Scholz S.C, (2012) User-Centered Design: Why and How to Put Users First in Software Development. Software for People, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-31371-4_2

[3] Hassenzahl M, (2010) Experience Design: Technology for All the Right Reasons. Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics doi:10.2200/S00261ED1V01Y201003HCI008


One thought on “Review: User-Centered Design – Why and How to Put Users First in Software Development

  1. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well
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