The difference between User Centred Design (UCD) and more ‘traditional’ product design is that, rather than asking “Is this product/service that I invented useful?”, in UCD we ask “What do we need to understand about people to find out what to design for them?”
In practice, the real difference is that doing the latter tends to satisfy a deeply held customer need thus making the product or service compelling and much, much easier to sell because the value tends to be self-evident.
Although User Centred Design originates from the spheres of product, interaction and interface design, there is, we think, absolutely no reason why the principles should not be applied successfully to the creation of business models. Particularly at the early or start-up stages of a company where it is both much easier to be agile and make strategic changes as well as being the point in a company’s life where making the right decisions is a life and death thing.
However, the one flaw with doing user centred design properly is that it takes time, effort, resources and money. While the rewards can be substantial, it is not every start-up that has the capacity to engage a team of researchers and designers to do this.
Smart Idea is UCD for start-ups were budget, time and resources are very low.