User-centric design refers to the design process in which the user holds the utmost importance. The focus is on the needs of the user throughout the design process. Also, users are involved with the design teams through a variety of research and surveys and are an important factor that helps in evolving innovation user-friendly design techniques. Moreover, the design thinking process can be implemented to understand the context and requirements of the user. This process helps in creating a highly usable, easily accessible, and comfortable space for the users. So, let’s ponder on some tips which can help in making architecture more user-centric:
1. Involve users since the beginning of the design process:
The involvement of the users since the start of the process helps in understanding the users and their needs better. Along with apprehending the user, it also makes it easy to take the critical decisions and evaluate them at each phase of the design.
2. Collection of Surveys:
This will require a little brainstorming from our end to get started but this is the most important step to understand the essential factors affecting the design. Formulate the right questions to ask the users as well as the related people. Asking the right questions through surveys helps in narrowing down our research to a point that needs more working on or in other words, which can be a difficulty that would need an innovative solution. Also, it helps in making it easy for the designer to understand what the user wants.
3. Asking Potential users to vote:
This step can help involve potential users into tasks where they can participate and vote to make the design more user-friendly. Also, you can post this on any social media platform along with asking the users to participate individually. Moreover, you can ask users about the most important needs of theirs. For example, In the case of the cultural center, you can ask participants to vote if they would like an additional display area for artifacts or would perhaps prefer to have an additional hands-on workshop. This will help in deciding how to utilize the space most appropriately.
4. Open Card Sorting:
Open card sorting is a very easy step in the process of design thinking. It begins with printing no more than thirty top tasks on different index cards. These thirty tasks can be from the list you have constructed through the surveys. Secondly, ask the users to make the groups from the cards. The way they sort the cards makes sense to them. After this, ask them to provide a title to the pile. The title they provide along with the groups will help us to get the idea about different sections, relations to space, and activities they should be designed for. Also, we can get insights into the placements of the spaces accordingly. Furthermore, this activity can be carried out with a minimum of five to six people, but the more number the better.
5. Introducing user feedback loop:
The users should be kept in the loop for them to understand the process as well as the design. We should collect feedback from them as to how they perceive the spaces. This helps in making it transparent that we, designers, as well as the users, are on the same page. This helps in improving the user experience of the space as the architects can take more user-focused decisions. Also, in case any problem comes at any stage of the design, the solution can be found quite easily and helps in making the space more comfortable for the user.
It is important to step in the shoes of the user to make a successful user-centric architecture. Empathizing with the user helps us to understand various essential factors through the perspective of the user. Finally, it will lead us on the path of more comfortable space for the people.
7. Plan the user journey:
The user journey is the path which the user follows in the structure. We, as architects, should be able to plan and design this path to make it more helpful, convenient, and innovative for the user. For example, in a shopping mall, the placement of the shops and the atrium featuring design elements acts as guiding as well as pause points for the visitors.
8. Create Personas
In some cases, it becomes difficult to get in touch with the actual audience, for example in the case of kindergarten, the users are the kids, but it is not possible to get them to answer the Questionnaire. Hence, in such cases, you can create personas. Personas are the representation of a particular group of people with akin behavior, goals, needs, attitudes, and skills. In other words, personas help in bringing the user to life and will ease the understanding of their problems. This facilitates the whole process of user-centric design but it is of utmost importance to create a proper persona as if one fails to understand the proper target audience, one might come up with the wrong solution and design.
9. Planning in consideration with Anthropometry:
Anthropometrics is the study of capabilities and measurements of the human body. We design building features that suit the human body. But sometimes it is important to consider it more appropriately. For example, in the case of the design of the school, a variety of age group kids are going to use the space, but, we can come up with spaces specially designed according to the different age groups of the kids and their needs. Also, rather than providing the same furniture for all, we can come up with innovative furniture designs that suit the age groups. Therefore anthropometry comes into play. If considered properly, the design can help in making a successful user-centric architecture.
10. Re-evaluate the design:
Once you are done with your building design, it is important to re-evaluate your design against the requirements of the users and be ready to go back to the design solution stage if the problem is not solved. Also, the back and forth iterative process of evaluation is the crux of any successful user-centric design, as it focuses on the understanding of the user and their context throughout all the stages of design and development.