SAP User-Centered Design

By SAP User Experience – Standards, Research and Methods – January 16, 2009

This page presents SAP's new design process, called SAP User-Centered Design (UCD).

SAP's user-centered design (UCD) is a flexible process for software development projects that enables teams to more effectively meet the needs of users and customers.

The UCD process defines a series of collaborative activities that involves the entire product team, ideally including:

  • Developers
  • Solution managers
  • Interaction designers
  • User researchers
  • Other key stakeholders

These collaborative activities take place in five distinct phases: Plan, Research, Design, Adapt, and Measure.

Keep in mind that the UCD process is flexible. If no interaction designer or user researcher can be assigned to a project, then the UCD activities can also be performed by solution managers and developers with the appropriate training. If some steps in the UCD process are not feasible, they can be left out. Clearly, the closer a development team sticks to the entire process, the better the results will be. But in the end, any UCD activity is better than none! Sometimes even small design activities can bring big rewards.

SAP User-Centered Design

Plan – Planning is critical to the success of all projects, and this is also true of projects using UCD. In the Plan phase, the team determines all of the UCD activities and ensures that the necessary resources are available.

Research – Before you can design a product, it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of the users' goals and tasks, the market needs, and related work.

Design – In the design phase, you define your system from the users' perspective. Initially, this phase takes the form of use cases and an object action model, which describes the tasks that the system will support. From these tasks you create UI designs, beginning with rough sketches and ending with detailed UI design specifications.

Adapt – The adapt phase acknowledges that even the best conceived designs often need to be adapted when development begins coding. This adaptation can occur as a result of unforeseen limitations in the target technology, new requirements, or missing functionality in the initial design.

Measure – When the product is released, it is possible to measure its usability quantitatively. These tests measure a product's effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction.


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