UCD for Product Managers

This is also known as “User First Design Principles”

UCD is the process of developing a tool or interface from the perspective of how it will be used by a human.

UCD delivers a product that meets and aligns with the users of the product in a manner that increases traction, sharability and adoption as well it should be tied into measurable metrics that you are measuring in your KPI’s

UCD is not just a step in the design phase of a product, it should be considered in all creation aspects (needs analysis, prod-mkt fit, persona creation, use case development, prototype, initial QA, and into  the agile development cycle.) It is not a one and done.

UCD means placing a level of importance (a weight if you will) on the elements that are capable of increasing the performance of the application in the eye’s of the customer. Yes, even above other elements.

A few of the principles that surround this process.

  1. Maintain consistency. A product should have minimal overhead to understand how to use it at a glance for the intended target markets. You should have consistent interaction elements that are associated with the products features and controls. Swipe to complete action? Make this a theme. Long press to extend features, Make this a theme. Buttons that complete similar actions, maintain their visual styles.
  2. Design for the users you have identified in the Product-Market fit segmentations and outlined in the user personas. Theses are the actors in the Use Cases.
  3. Allow the user to accomplish the task at hand. Reduce the overhead of using an app. It should feel like an extension of the “problem solving effort” by a user and not a separate problem in and of itself.
  4. Write at the same level, at the same consistency, and with the same brevity.  Create a voice if you will for the app, and ensure that the app adhears to that voice. Indeed your app can have a persona as well, and it should be approachable and friendly.
  5. Provide feedback to the users when it is needed. This can be in the form of dialog, visual elements, animations, noise, vibration. If the user is engaged in a task, make sure they are informed of the current progress of the task as they are doing it. Again, be consistent with the feedback mechanisms you use. Be careful of relying on certain types of feedback mechanisms that may not be usable to the end user (system or notifications volume on low)
  6. Let the user guide their use of the application. Measure this with identifiable metrics and expand on areas that  a user may need or expect to use. A major part of this is the ability for a user to leave feedback on the system that is directed to the product design and manager. (Sorry marketing folks, push solicitations for reviews are not part of the product feedback cycle here)
  7. Adhear to Apple and Googles design guidelines for developing apps and Googles guide for how to develop usable websites. If you are not familiar with these, then its time to brush up.
  8. Create a mantra around your navigation, and apply it universally. This could be “1-step-off”, “Logical next choice” or others. It is fine to segment the navigation areas, but do try to adhear to the navigation pattern in a consistent fashion.
  9. Target bugs before features. Ensure you have the best tracking and error identification tech in place from day one, and the review of this is part of someone’s daily assigned duties. If you need to present a user with an error message, ensure that you are logging that message to a system that records the user, timestamp, issue codes, platform, network state, and crashdump if it is fatal.
  10. Create a method for providing assistance at the quick for users. This includes allowing for a user to access a KB in easy situations, topical help based of last view, and even ML assistance bots, which can create major headaches.


As you release new versions, keep in mind the roadmap and how that roadmap is not just about product. It is indeed a roadmap to customer success via thoughtful design processes.