When building an application, software, or any other product that your customers will be using, you cannot omit the fact that they have an impact on your end result. Whether they will like it or leave angry reviews, each their action and feedback influences your further decisions and company image. According to Web FX, 75% of website credibility comes from design and how it will be perceived by a customer. That is why it is impossible not to think about your clients during the software development process.

Your team needs to understand customers’ needs, be experts in UI/UX design, and know which development and design principles and frameworks to use in order to satisfy clients’ interests. Therefore, today, we will talk about three of the most commonly used design frameworks, known as Design Thinking, User-Centered Design, and Human-Centered Design. Let’s find out their differences and similarities and see how they can help to improve your software.

When Design Frameworks Are a Must

Having different guidelines for different processes during custom software development is what helps teams to achieve their goals. For example, following common design frameworks or creating your own approaches leads to more efficient project management, and everyone understands what and why should be done. If you take into account various factors, including your target audience, their interests, and resources that you have, you may also add design frameworks to the list.

A design framework is a practice that organizes information your team has, guides your staff, and provides all the interested parties with the tools and instructions that will aid them to solve issues and create more desirable experiences. Design frameworks are intended to simplify the complex product design and development process by reducing the amount of challenges, structuring team processes, and helping to identify solutions or alternative strategies.

Read Also UX Design Frameworks: Do You Even Need Them? Spoiler: Yes, You Do

There are many options that you can choose from when looking for the best digital framework for your team. Today, we are exploring the dissimilarities between frameworks that take into account the needs of people, so let’s take a closer look at when each option can be used.

User-Centered Design or UCD

This is the most user-centered approach used in UX/UX design and software development, which is not surprising considering its name. The main goal of this design principle revolves around the needs of your target audience. It means that your team needs to ensure during each development and design sprint that the product of your company reflects the demands of its users. Of course, it is vital to include the goals of your business strategy, but the main focus will be on the target user.

To understand the approach better, let’s answer the questions you may have.

  • What are the key principles of the UCD framework?
    First of all, you need to design for users. Characteristics of your audience, specific environment, tasks that will be involved after product launches – every related factor should be taken into account. Be consistent in placing interface elements and minimize distractions or other irrelevant tasks in order to reduce the amount of effort a user will have to make. You also need to listen to the feedback of your audience if you want to be closer to it.
  • Can my company benefit from following the UCD principle?
    Yes. If you use the approach not only during the design stage, your product has more chances to successfully enter the market, have higher adoption rates, and satisfy the needs of the users. Thinking that design frameworks refer only to the design stage of your product life cycle leads closer to its failure. So, you need to understand that user-centered design is applicable at any stage of the software development life cycle.
  • Which techniques to follow for the successful implementation of UCD?
    In general, the framework consists of 4 main steps that you need to perform, which are research, specification, design, and evaluation. To be sure that your team follows the procedure victoriously, interviews and surveys may be implemented. These methods are ideal at the early stages and help you to understand how to act further. Creating user personas is also a good way to know your audience better. It is also impossible to avoid developing MVP or Proof of Concept and analyzing the data you gather in the process.

Read Also MVP vs POC vs Prototype — Main Differences and Benefits

Design Thinking or DT

This nonlinear framework covers three main elements, such as people, business, and technology. DT is not a problem-based approach but rather user-centric and solution-based, which means that you focus mainly on the solution, not the problem.

  • Which phases does DT include?
    The amount of design thinking steps varies from 3 to 7, but the most common amount is usually reduced to 4. Thus, the phases include clarification, ideation, development, and implementation. First of all, you need to do some user research and define what matters to your audience. Then, imagine which issues your user may encounter and how they can be solved. Taking into account the information you gathered, create a prototype and then test it.
  • Why is knowing how to use DT vital?
    Because it brings many benefits. You won’t need to go through trial and error to become closer to the result. Teams are able to generate ground-breaking solutions without the need to spend time on irrelevant problems. It gives them extra freedom and time to do better research, prototype more effectively, and uncover new approaches to meeting users’ needs.
  • How is DT different from UCD?
    While the design thinking method and user-centered design may look similar at first, they have their peculiarities. Thus, UCD is focused on the overall experience of your users, while DT is all about resolving ill-defined issues.

Read Also Total Experience Management: Ensuring Proper Operation of All Mechanisms with the Best Full-Coverage Business Strategy

Human-Centered Design or HCD

This type of design framework involves the full understanding of the human perspectives at each stage of the design method. It means that you value customer feedback and preferences and put real people at the center of the development and design process. As a result, your products are tailored to the needs of your audience and they resonate with the users.

  • Which phases does HCD have?
    Without further ado, we can just say that human-centered design has the same phases as other two design techniques. You basically follow the steps of clarification, ideation, development, and implementation.
  • How is HCD different from UCD or DT?
    Human-centered approach sometimes can be considered as an interchangeable option for the user-centered method, which at the same time distances it from design thinking. However, HCD is about the empathetic and psychological side, while UCD is about the physiological and tangible side. To put it simply, one of them is about humans, and the other is about users. Hence the name.


It is totally understandable why a company may be lost in a wide variety of choices and is trying to find the best option between the frameworks and techniques the team knows and might use. Therefore, when picking between design thinking, human-centered design, and user-centered design, it is essential to clearly recognize your original goals. If you want to pay extra attention to the user side, UCD may be a good choice. If you need to deal with vague problems, DT can help you. In case you need to have a more human approach, going for HCD may be a better decision. It all depends on what you want to achieve with your product.

If you need to create surpassing UI and UX design for your software or are looking for ways that will speed up the front-end development process, contact us, and we will be delighted to lend you a hand.