Your UI design looks good. But are you sure that is what the users need?

Muhammad Urwatil Wutsqo
4 min readMar 21, 2022

In this article, I will discuss a concept called User-Centered Design, one of the essential things in digital product development.

One of the most common mistakes product designer faces, especially among beginners, is jumping right to the UI design without considering the UX part.

Let’s say you’re building a product that many users will use. The business model is great. Your design looks good on the eyes, with beautiful styling and fancy animation. Your app is working as intended. But in the end, you realize that your app isn’t as successful as you thought it would be. Many people are complaining that your app is hard to use. The navigation menu is confusing. Etc.

So what is that thing that can cause such a problem? It’s might not the business model or the technology that you use. But rather because your app design doesn’t fulfill what the users exactly need. How do you prevent such things happen? By understanding a concept called User-Centered Design (UCD).

UCD is how we design our app, not based on what we want but rather on what our potential users need. In more fancy words, UCD is an iterative process that focuses on understanding the users and their context in all design and development stages.

For each iterative process, there are generally four distinct phases:

  1. Understand context of use

In this first phase, we need to understand the context of how the users may use our app. For example, in our group project for the software development course, we wanted to build an app where people can evaluate their study programs (teachers, classes, etc.) for the ongoing academic terms.

For students, it is about finding what classes are they taking. Then for each classes, they can submit your feedback about the class or the lecturers. For the faculty, it is how they can make a better decision to improve the academic quality based on student’s feedback data.

2. Specify user requirements

Once we understand the context, we can start to identify and specify the requirements that the users need.

For example with student role. Before they can send a feedback, they need to login with their student’s credentials. They need to see what classes are they taking this semester along with the lecturers. Then finally they want to send their feedback about the specific class or lecturers. For the faculty, they need to see the feedback from the students.

3. Design solution

Based on the requirements we already specified, we can propose a design solution that we think might fit our users’ need, in this case both students and the faculty.

How do we collects feedback from student while still ensuring the collected feedback can be processed by the faculty and produced meaningful data to make a better decision?

There are a lot of options. We can use scaled questionnaire to collect measurable data, like how generally happy the student while studying in a specific class. We can also use different approach, like using text fields where student can post their opinion, it is not measurable, but sometimes can give more in-depth feedback. I think we can agree that it is best to use both approach.

4. Evaluate against requirements

Then we came to the evaluation phase. Here we can assess the outcomes of the evaluation against the users’ context and requirements, to check how well our design is performing. For example, is it using 1 to 10 scale options is too many? Maybe we can lower it to just 1 to 6.

From this phase, we can makes further iterations and continue until the evaluation results are satisfactory.

I think that’s enough for this article. I hope it helps you learn a bit about user-centered design and help you realize that UI design isn’t just enough to make a good product that our users need.