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Can user experience design (UXD) and user centered design (UCD) be considered the same?

If not, how do they relate to each other and how do they differ?

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I'm not sure what your confusion is, here. Are you asking about differences between UX and UCD? Because there generally aren't any. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Oct 24 '12 at 12:28
@Dennis, please improve your accept rate by going through the questions you have asked and choosing the one you like the best as the Best answer. It helps improve the site as a whole, and will encourage people to take the time to write good answers to your questions. –  msanford Dec 12 '12 at 1:41
Just ask yourself, can you applying UCD processes without doing UX? Can you apply UX processes without doing UCD? I think the answer really depends on the definition, but you can definitely say that both go hand-in-hand, and you can't really do one thing without doing the other. –  Michael Lai Sep 13 '13 at 0:08

5 Answers 5


Put another way, user-centred design is a method (or process) to achieving good user experience.

Here is an example UCD design flow using SAP (note arrows indicating a process): Example UCD flow using SAP

Source: SAP Design Guild

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I find it ironic to see SAP advocating User Centered Design when their own software is such an example of the opposite... –  Marjan Venema Dec 5 '12 at 19:12

UXD describes what's designed (the experience). UCD describes the process (starting with user research and validated through artefacts like personas). In practice, most UX designers try to work in a user-centered way, but that's not always easy to achieve under commercial constraints, especially when the user and the customer are not actually the same person (e.g. advertising products).

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First define UXD and UCD ;-)

And since, in my experience, if you get four UX folk in a room you'll end up with eight different definitions it's hard to give an answer that will please everybody.

I've seen definitions that would make them roughly equivalent.

I've seen UXD described as a generic umbrella term, with UCD being a specific instance of a process for doing UCD.

I've seen UXD described very narrowly, with it fitting in as part of a broader UCD process.

Swings. Roundabouts. Roundabouts. Swings.

My answer from the gut would be "It doesn't matter." Pick any definition you like. The particular names we pick don't help us build better products.

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UCD is a part of User Experience designing. The experience for the user is not valid if the user has not been kept in mind. The UCD approach does just that.

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Can you explain this a little more? This answer seems very circular right now. –  norabora Oct 2 '13 at 20:06

I think it's important to distinguish between UX-design and UX first, because UX only describes the term. (Like usability does.) UX-design is more about how to achieve good UX.

In my opinion UCD tries also to establish good UX by focusing on the user. Therefore the terms UXD and UCD are quite similar. UCD is also seen as a process, so that one could say it's a (more) concrete instance, whereas UXD is a field.

Thinking in an evolutionary way I would say that in these days UX-design is a kind of successor of UCD which itself has evolved out of usability engineering. (Usability Engineering -> UCD -> UXD)

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