Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Educational Design and Engagement

Educational Design and Engagement

Enriching the student learning experience & supporting development of on campus and online courses.

Importance of User Centred Design

During a year where we’ve seen a switch to a new way of working, I attended the User Centred Design (UCD) online conference, covering all aspects of user-centred design and looking at research from various speakers and industries around the world. User experience and design is somewhat integrated within my role and I was looking forward to hearing some of the outcomes and challenges people have faced in their own projects.

Dog in a room with makeshift desk

Roberto Nickson (2019) CC0


Throughout the day there were numerous speakers/topics I was keen to listen into, including some great topics such as the keynote from Ian Forrester, Senior Firestarter (great title!) from the BBC R&D team which dealt with the subject of data ethics and privacy. Ian showcased their research project on the living room of the future was really interesting and eye opening. For this they had a room setup where everything was connected i.e. all the devices in the room where connected and knew what the user was doing all the time. This is not as far-fetched as it first sounded as I think its easy to forget how much of our data is being used in order to maximise some of the devices we use from our mobile phones to our household tech such as Google home and Alexa.

I also tuned into an excellent collaborative project between Women’s Aid and cxpartners on the development of a live chat service for women experiencing domestic violence. This covered a range of areas from how the pilot and testing took place right through the development and feedback from women who have used the service. This was a fascinating and inspiring example of how technology and UX design had come together to develop something that was making a positive impact in the support of those who experience domestic abuse. One of the main features of the chat platform was being able to build in privacy to allow the women who are using the service to use it discreetly, something which sounds so simple but in many cases is vital to the success of the tool.

One of the priorities being built into the app was that of content and tone. Having worked with colleagues at the university on chatbots, I have a practical understanding of how these two features are always at the forefront of thinking when developing ideas, so I found the insight gained from this part of the talk to be incredibly valuable and how important this was in such a sensitive context.

These are perhaps things that when developing a live chat system could be easily be overlooked, but in a situation such as this, become of critical importance in the UX. I think there are critical messages here in how we develop tools such as live chat which can be taken into any context that we develop for. Sensitivity and trust are key factors that cannot be simply overlooked.


This was an excellent conference and one that gave me plenty to think about in terms of user centred design, sensitivity and our relationship with the Internet of Things in the future. I think the biggest takeaway for me was how important design, testing and user experience is as part of the whole process, rather than the just the end result.

I have mentioned this in workshops and blogs before, but UX design and testing is challenging. As difficult as the process may be, I think this is a good thing. It forces us to think more deeply about the products and tools that we develop and perhaps think more about who we are essentially trying to reach out to.


Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.