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Chapter 7. Methodology > What to Look for in a User-Centered Methodology

What to Look for in a User-Centered Methodology

Mature development organizations today use a defined system development life cycle for software development. This means they have a plan for how to develop software that includes an entire cycle from feasibility through programming and implementation. Some of these are industry standards with software tools available, such as the Rational Unified Process (RUP), and others are proprietary processes developed within companies. Although some software development life cycles may mention usability, they do not include a comprehensive set of steps necessary in order to follow a user-centered design process. Software development life cycle methodologies concentrate on the technical aspects of building a software product, as they should. They do not make the engineering of the user experience and tasks the primary focus of the development. This means they build applications from the technology and data, inside out. User-centered design is a different way to approach development because it concentrates on the user and the user tasks, rather than on technical and programming issues. Following a user-centered design process is the only way to reliably create practical, useful, usable, and satisfying technology products. In a user-centered process, you will design the user experience first, then let that drive the technology as shown in Figure 7-1.

Figure 7-1. The “Old” Technical-Centered Solution Needs to Be Replaced by the “New” User-Centered Solution.



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