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UCA is a multistage process done to analyze the users and create a solution that would satisfy their needs. This process helps us in understanding the business as well as the customer/user goals. UCA is the best approach to understand the ins and outs of the product to be developed which includes the target users, the needs and expectations of the user, the major tasks a user will have to perform, the business goals, and finally the USP.
Benefits of UCA
- Effective in identifying the UX problems before they occur.
- Validate if our assumptions meet the user’s mental model.
- Identify the critical tasks and prioritize them.
- Build a positive experience.
- Save money and time of development.
As per the guidelines by Human Factors International (HFI), the UCA process involves different steps and they can be listed out as:
- Design Strategy
Always begin the process by creating a design strategy which would help to acquire a clear view of the problem. It identifies the problem and derives a good solution considering the goals of the business, user needs, and other critical aspects.
A design strategy comprises of the following:
- Business Goals: Specifies what the company wants to achieve over a period of time in terms of branding, sales, profit, etc.
- Target Users/Market Segment: Primary users who are likely to be using the product. Our design should be able to satisfy the needs of this group.
- General Tasks: Common set of tasks which would be performed by the target users with the product.
- Technological constraints: Specifies the limitations in implementing the concept using the current technology.
- Marketing/Branding Goals: Specifies the values/personality the design would possess and offer to its users. It should always focus on establishing a significant presence in the market that attracts and retains customers.
- CSF(Critical success factors): Defines the important outcomes to be met to ensure customer satisfaction.
Profiles are created to understand the characteristics of the target users, analyze the differences among them, identify the critical tasks they would prefer to perform, and know the different user aspects that would influence the design.
The 3 different types of profiles to be created are:
- User Profile: Captures the demographics of the user such as language, age, gender, education, and expertise.
- Task Profile: List down all the tasks and specifies which are the different tasks performed by each user.
- Environment Profile: Captures the characteristics(Location, geography, workspace, lighting, sound, device, and software) of the user’s environment at which he/she will be using the product.
These are fictional characters created to represent different user types that would interact with your product. They help to understand the target users in detail by gathering knowledge about their needs, goals, expectations, motivations, and pain points.
It is a fictional short story about the user accomplishing a task using the product. It gives a clear idea of who the user would be, why would he/she use your product, what task would they prefer to execute using the product.
- Field Study
All of our assumptions considered in the previous stages can be confirmed by conducting a field study. It gives us an opportunity to interact with our target users and learn their needs and requirements. The users are closely observed and interviewed at their locations so to make them feel comfortable to provide honest opinions. It would always be better to conduct a field study with at least 5 users to fetch 85% of user needs.
- Task Flow
It is a flow diagram that shows different steps a user would perform to complete a task. Task flow is different from user flow which shows all possible paths a user can navigate through the application. However, the goal of both is to optimize the user’s ability to accomplish a task without any difficulty.
- Primary Noun Architecture
It identifies the key jargons (buzzwords in the market) that can be used to build the navigation scheme.
- Information Architecture
It defines the organization of the product’s(site/application) content and its functionality. The relationship between different jargons captured in the preceding stage will be established using IA.
It is the visual guide of the proposed solution that represents the framework of the product. This visual guide can then be used to test and validate our design ideas and assumptions.
UCA starts with the people whom you are designing for and ends with a solution which possesses everything that is required to satisfy their needs and expectations. This can be achieved only through user interaction where designers empathize with their users to gain insights on user requirements. Always remember our users would decide to use our product for a purpose and to know what they are really looking for, the only way out is to talk, observe their behaviour and empathize with them. And this is how you mark the success of your product by offering your users what they really desire for.