Screen shot 2012-06-27 at 3.45.33 PM Theory

The Usability ABC – part 2

This week I’d like to continue my list of definitions with five terms that also occur on a frequent basis: UCD, User interface, Prototype, Fidelity, and Iterative design. Again I’d like to encourage you to comment on this post for feedback and suggestions you might have for further definitions.

User Centred Design (UCD)
UCD describes the development process of any kind of product or user interface that has it’s focus on the end user. UCD always starts with a thorough analysis of the needs, expectations and limitations of the user. The design process is iterative and involves repetitive user testing to validate each step of the process.
User Interface
The user interface is the interface of any machine or system the end user interacts with. Through the user interface, the user operates the machine or system and receives feedback over success or failure of the given orders. In order to fulfill the requirements of good usability and user experience, a user interface needs to be usable, intuitive and to a certain degree fun to use.
Prototype
A prototype is a provisional version of a product or system that is used to visualizes ideas and test functionalities. Prototypes are used in all different fields and in different stages of the development of a product. The idea behind prototyping is to validate ideas and concepts early in the development process in order to save time and money. Changes in prototypes can be made quite easily compared with changes in existing products.
Fidelity
A prototype can be of low or high fidelity. The fidelity of a prototype describes the degree to which it is finalized or similar to the final product. The more features of the final product a prototype has, the higher its fidelity. A paper sketch of a website is of low fidelity while a clickable simulation of a website which already shows the planned design and functionality is of high fidelity.
Iterative Design
Iterative design describes a cyclic design process which is defined through repetitive user testing. Based on a first concept, a prototype is created. This prototype is tested to verify the concept. After analyzing the test results, the concept is refined and the design goes into its next iteration. This process should be repeated until users find no more issues that need to be addressed.

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