Methods at a Glance
The following list includes various user-centered design methods that can help improve the usability and usefulness of your site.
User Requirements Methods
Contextual interviews enable you to observe users in their natural environment, giving you a better understanding of the way users work.
Focus groups, moderated discussion with a group of users, allow you to learn about user attitudes, ideas, and desires.
Individual interviews, one-on-one discussions with users, show you how a particular user works. They enable you to get detailed information about a user's attitudes, desires, and experiences.
Task analysis involves learning about user goals, including what users want to do on your website, and helps you understand the tasks that users will perform on your site.
Online surveys, a series of questions asked to multiple users of your website, help you learn about the people who visit your site.
Personas, fictional people who represent a major user group for your site, help you identify major user groups of your Web site.
Building the Information Architecture (IA)
Card sorting allows users to group your site’s information. This helps ensure that the site structure matches the way users think.
Use cases provide a description of how users use a particular feature of your website. They provide a detailed look at how users interact with the site, including the steps users take to accomplish each task.
Parallel design allows multiple designers to create mock-ups of a site’s user interface. The final design uses the best aspects of each mock-up.
Prototyping allows the design team to explore ideas before implementing them by creating a mock-up of the site. A prototype can range from a paper mock-up to interactive html pages.
Writing for the Web guidelines optimize Web content based on the way users read online. It includes writing in language users understand, using bulleted lists, and putting the most important information at the top of the page.
Heuristic evaluation involves a group of usability experts evaluating your website against a list of established guidelines.
Usability testing identifies user frustrations and problems with your site through one-on-one sessions where a "real-life" user performs tasks on your site.