Go out and meet your users where they are!

User-centric design takes into account where the user is currently at - the cultural, psychological, ability and physical context - and engages with them from that point.

An emergency defibrillator is designed to engage users in high stress situations, in unfamiliar surroundings, with no medical knowledge, and without language fluency.

Defibrillator instructions via Shutterstock.

As user-centric designers, we cannot assume users are at the same starting point as ourselves.

In earlier days of web design, (ego-centric) designers created many elaborate Flash animated interfaces.These worked great on their fast computers with large screens on the office network, but failed miserably for the majority of users who were on dial up, slow PCs and tiny screens.

When engaging with someone in a different world - a different culture, or even in the midst of a psychotic episode - it is more helpful to start from where they are. By understanding their world, we can tailor the engagement to suit their world. The alternative is to maintain the "they are there" and "we are here" divide, and insist they come over to here.

Good user-centric design is less ego and more empathy. The designer goes out to discover and engage with infinite new worlds.