User Centered Design

I used to think of websites as digital ‘books’. We go online to look at web ‘pages’ and we ‘read’ information we find that relates to what we are looking for. However, since I have been in college my view on the web has shifted. It now seems more like a busy city street to me. We use different means, such as search engines, links, and bookmarks like modes of transportation to move through the web to find what we are looking for. On our way we may be confronted with advertisements, like street vendors vying for our attention. The web is an interactive place where we can play games, talk to friends, and even go shopping so it makes more sense to me to think of the web as another ‘dimension’ than as a plain old book.
As a student of web design I think it is important to think about how we view the web because we are the ones constructing it. If we think of ourselves as architects of this relatively new dimension we begin to think outside the box and look for ways to advance and make the web better, such as city planners would do in the ‘real’ world. For the most part, making something better usually boils down to making it easier for people to use. This reflects also on the fact that by improving something, hopefully more people will use it. It seems to me that two of the most predominant goals of website building is to create something that has superior functionality and attracts (and retains) customers. Looking at these two goals alone it should be clear that user centered design is the key to quality web development.

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