What is User-centered Design and why is it important?

Jack Phillips 10 April, 2018

User-centered Design

Minitab’s R&D department uses modern design principles, including a user-centered design approach – adopting the Neilsen Norman Group’s (NN/g) methods and processes. NN/g is the world’s leader in all things usability. Hoa Loranger, their vice president, summarized their philosophy best: “UX without users Isn't UX.”

For Minitab, this means putting our users at the center of our design processes. From our early needs analysis to ideation workshops, from wireframing to usability testing, we want to verify at every step of the design process that we are making something that our users really want and can easily use.


The Minitab Design Process

The Minitab Design Process

What We’re Doing

We have always valued customer input. We recently changed our approach to testing – conducting smaller tests throughout a project cycle rather than conducting large usability tests at the end of the design lifecycle. This allows us to maximize opportunities as well as identify and correct issues as they come up.

We also retooled our interviewing process to better unearth users’ general attitudes about features and services, and the feedback gathered in our post-interview analyses has proven invaluable. We started using a broader array of study types. Using a combination of card sorts, tree tests, and surveys, we have been able to collect more nuanced data about our designs, resulting in faster, more valuable design iterations.

What We’re Planning Next

We are investigating more ways to bring user feedback into our process:

Participatory Design

In participatory design sessions, we will sit down with our customers, discuss design ideas, and even collaborate on the development of wireframes and working prototypes.

Ethnography Studies

There is only so much that you can learn from a scripted usability study; in the end, the best information comes from watching a customer do their day-to-day work. That shows us not just if the software is usable, but it shows us what specific features are being used, what is being overlooked, where are the gaps, where are the pain points. We want to see our customers doing their own work.