The Foundation of User-Centric Design

Product management lives at the intersection of technology, business and design. Recently, the emphasis on design has grown in importance, since at its essence, user-centric design is about solving problems.

What is Design?

I like to consider a broad definition of design. As Steve Jobs said, “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like… It’s not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.” Design is not a process, it’s more like an event.

This vision puts design at the center of a company, and so it influences how other functions execute. At its best, design makes an impact on sales, support, management, marketing, engineering and manufacturing. It’s a process rather than a series of discrete decisions regarding style or function.

Double Diamond Design Model

In 2005, the British Design Council came up with the Double Diamond design model which is applicable to user-centric design. The first phase defines your strategy. The second phase executes a solution, and it includes reiteration until you achieve the desired result. This model reveals how design is moving further upstream from execution and defining more core strategies.

The diamond shape represents the process of expanding to generate many ideas and then narrowing it down to the best solutions. This occurs on the strategy and execution side – thus the double diamond shape.

On some teams, you’ll find many cross-functional members running the process with product managers, designers, engineers, researchers, data scientists, etc. all involved. Our product process, therefore, ends up being modeled after a user-centric design process.

Design Is For Everyone

Design thinking can be applied to nearly any problem-solving scenario. So you have the following flow of events:

Empathize → Define → Ideate → Prototype → Test

Tim Brown, CEO of Ideo says, “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s tool kit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

Design is an approach to solving problems, as much as it is a craft. User-centric design influences business strategy as much as it influences pixels.

 

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About the Speaker
Chris Abad
Chris Abad is the former Product VP at UserTesting - responsible for driving the company’s product vision and strategy across its portfolio of products. He has more than 15 years of experience building high-performance product and design teams. Prior to joining UserTesting, Chris held leadership roles at companies including Salesforce, InVision, Campaign Monitor - and served as founder of two start-ups. Chris holds a degree from San Diego State University and currently lives in San Francisco.

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