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A Case Study in User-Centred Design Methods

Redesign of the Monash University Web Site

What is user-centred design?

User-centred design (UCD) is a development process often defined as having three core principles (Gould & Lewis, 1985: 300-11).

1) The first is the focus on users and their tasks.

UCD involves a structured approach to the collection of data from and about users and their tasks. The involvement of users begins early in the development life-cycle and continues throughout it.

2) The second core principle is the empirical measurement of usage of the system.

The typical approach is to measure aspects of ease of use on even the earliest system concepts and prototypes, and to continue this measurement throughout development.

3) The third basic principle of UCD is iterative design.

The development process involves repeated cycles of design, test, redesign and retest until the system meets its usability goals and is ready for release.

The goal of user-centred design is to make a system more usable.

Usability is defined in ISO 9241 as “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use” (cited Bevan 1999).


Bevan, N (1999 in press) Quality in Use: Meeting User Needs for Quality Serco Usability Services

Gould, JD & Lewis, C (1985) “Designing for Usability: Key Principles and What Designers Think”, Communications of the ACM, 2 (3), March, pp. 300-11.

Daly-Jones, O, Thomas, C, Bevan, N. (1997) Handbook of user centred design. National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middx, UK,



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