The term ‘User Centred Design’ is often used when we apply ergonomics principles to product design.
In broad terms, User Centred Design (UCD) is both a design philosophy
and a design process. As a philosophy, it makes the needs, wants, and
limitations of the end user of a product the priority focus, and as a
process it offers designers a range of methods and techniques to ensure
this focus is sustained through the various stages of design.
The UCD process not only helps designers to analyse and foresee how
users are likely to use a product, but also to assess their assumptions
about people’s behaviour in realistic tests with actual users. Such
testing is necessary as it is often very difficult for designers to
understand intuitively what a first-time user of their design will
experience, and what each user’s learning curve may look like. The chief
difference from other design philosophies is that UCD tries to optimise
the design around how users can, want, or need to use the product,
rather than forcing them to change their behaviour to accommodate the
The Design for Real People Action Group, in collaboration with the
CIEHF, has been working over the past few years to support the
introduction of User Centred Design (UCD) into Design and Technology
teaching in schools. A new guide has been published which is intended to
be an introduction to the teaching of UCD and to provide support to
teachers and their students.