I was told that they are not the same but without any explanation. What is the difference between the two, if any?

  • 1
    I could be wrong but I have been in the UX industry for 3 years and both are synonyms for me. Centered and centric are basically the same words. I'd say look up user centered design and that would answer your question. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-centered_design May 23, 2017 at 11:07
  • 3
    As far as I'm aware, the term is only "user centered design". Googling the terms also only returns 'centered' for me. Maybe user centric design is simply a different spelling that took hold. May 23, 2017 at 11:26
  • 1
    I watched User Centred Design (UCD) spread through the design industry from 20 years ago following the spread of the world-wide web (although it's much older than that as a discipline) and no-one has ever agreed on whether it's 'centred' or 'centric'. Technically speaking, 'Centred' implies that it is focussed on the user whereas 'Centric' implies thinking about the user but the processes, goals, and end results are identical so it doesn't really matter! May 23, 2017 at 14:39

3 Answers 3


I have no reference on this topic other than all the weird people I've worked with / for over the years.

User-centered design

 Solve for the user, validate that you've addressed the business need.

User-centric design

 Solve for the business need, validate that users respond well. 

Too subtle to be practical

Linguistically, the difference is too subtle to use reliably. The only way to know with any certainty what someone means is by analyzing their design process. Where do they start the discovery? Where are they centered?

For the record, I think both are incomplete concepts and we should hear a lot more about activity-centered design.

  • +1 Do those weird people also include other UX designers? :D It's actually not a bad definition.
    – Michael Lai
    May 24, 2017 at 2:57
  • 1
    Yes, UXers are the weirdest. May 24, 2017 at 4:56
  • Humans are influenced by technology and technology are influenced by the humans using them. HCD and ACD also seem to be a sliding scale of different design philosophies, no?
    – Michael Lai
    May 24, 2017 at 5:02
  • Looks like the activity-centered design link is not valid. Here are some related links from the same website. one, two
    – krishwader
    Jan 16, 2020 at 2:00

At least in the UX field, we use "user-centered design" when the user goals, tasks, environments, feelings, etc are taken as a key factor in the design process. There isn't at least an already established term as "user-centric". So, it not been an already "known term" by the field, it would be reasonable just to take it as a synonym.

If somebody on this field tries incorporate to use these two different terms, they may be going against the basics of this discipline by dismissing the importance of key UX features as: familiarity, convention, labeling, avoiding ambiguity, "don't make me think", etc.

If in your particular environment everyone use them as different terms (or if you have a "not-open-I-know-it-all-superior") you don't have too much choice but to learn how they use it. Otherwise I'd try to suggest another term to avoid future confusion.


I think these two terms reflect a sliding scale of 'user-centricity' when it comes to design. Just as the Agile Manifesto is more of a philosophy and approach rather than a prescribed set of methodologies and tools (which we often forget), UX is really a particular perspective or approach in design.

So rather than trying to split hairs defining what shade of grey each term refers to, it is better to try and find out how much of the requirements, design decisions, development decisions and testing process/outcome is going to be directly relating or coming from the user. Then you can decide what they mean by the terms that they use.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.