I was reading the ISO standard for UCD and I started to think about the UX process I work within and how it is like the standard, and how it is not. One interesting aspect of the standard is that it is defined as iterative. I tend to work within a process where the research, design, and development phase are all actually somewhat reflective of a waterfall process. But, within each of those phases, we seem to adhere to an Agile process. There are parts that are iterative, and parts that are not. But I don’t consider that to be a process that is at odds with UCD.
So I got to wondering, at what point does UCD cease to be UCD?
I’m the type of person who believes that words mean things, and that if you call yourself a user centered designer, it would make sense that you would at least partially adhere to the standard. If not, call yourself something else. Of course, I’m not some purist where I believe there is only one interpretation of the standard, nor do I believe anyone must or should adhere to it 100%. (I’m not sure how you even would, given the high level at which it is specified.) But I do believe there must be some sort of line where user centered design must not be considered user centered design.
I was speaking about this with a colleague, and her off-the-cuff response was that she had worked for a firm in the past where there was no research, nor any research staff. They simply would just start a project with wireframes and would go from there. That sounds like a reasonable definition of what is not UCD. I’m sure there are other ways that a UX process could be considered at odds with UCD. But I’m not quite sure what those are just yet or how to categorize them.
What is the line in the sand for you? What is not UCD?