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

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    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 – Shreyas Tripathy May 23 '17 at 11:07
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    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. – Wanda May 23 '17 at 11:26
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    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! – Andrew Martin May 23 '17 at 14:39
up vote 3 down vote accepted

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 '17 at 2:57
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    Yes, UXers are the weirdest. – plainclothes May 24 '17 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 '17 at 5:02

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.

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