User centered design canvas

New ux tool combining user needs with business goals

UCDC will help you:

  • understand the target user
  • define product/market fit
  • adjust the business to the user and market needs
  • determine the competitive advantages
  • create Unique Value Proposition
  • improve the brand communication strategy

What is
User Centered Design Canvas (UCDC)

UCDC was created out of need for an easy and effective tool facilitating user experience design process. Heavily based on user-centered approach and inspired by other great tools such as Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas, the tool enables a comprehensive analysis of the user and the business main goals.

It has been used for numerous professional purposes, facilitating countless website designs and improving dozens of business marketing strategies. User Centered Design Canvas was tested also in academic environment serving as a tool to teach students during the User Experience Design course at the University of Wroclaw.

How to use
User Centered Design Canvas

The Canvas Structure

UCDC is divided into 9 fields. Done with the user-centered approach in mind, the users field was placed at the very heart of it. The left side of the canvas focuses on the users, the right side on the business. Following the logical order of analysis, the canvas enables creating a one sentence summary in the form of Unique Value Proposition.


UCDC Manual


Field 1. – Business

This field should contain the name or short description of the analyzed company, organization, brand or product.

  • Café Mánual – a local café

Field 2. – Users

Fill in this field with all types of potential or existing target users of the analyzed business.

  • students (taking coffee during a break)
  • businessmen (buying coffee on their way to work)
  • coffee aficionados (seeking perfection in coffee making)

Field 3. – Problems

Complete the field with all hypothetical or existing problems the users may want to solve with the features or services the analyzed business provides.

  • feels sleepy in the morning
  • can’t afford Starbucks
  • is in a hurry (needs coffee on the go)

Field 4. – Motives

This field should be completed with all possible emotional drives that may motivate the users to get in contact with the analyzed business.

  • drinks only fair trade coffee
  • doesn't want to be associated with chain cafés
  • wants to taste coffee from different brands and parts of the world

Field 5. – Fears

Fill in this field with all possible anxieties the users may feel when contacting or using the analyzed business.

  • coffee will be too expensive
  • coffee won’t taste good
  • the place will be crowded

Field 6. – Solutions

Describe both existing and hypothetical ways in which the analyzed business can solve the users’ problems specified in the Field 3.

  • reasonable prices
  • the coffee is strong, good quality and fair trade
  • queue passes for regular customers

Field 7. – Alternatives

This field should be completed with all possible alternatives the users may choose instead of the analyzed business.

  • drink coffee at home / university / office
  • go to chain café
  • drink green tea / energy drink

Field 8. – Competitive Advantages

This field should contain any features or characteristics that distinguish the analyzed business from its competitors.

  • experienced, skilled barista with awards in coffee making
  • coffee for free in case of waiting more than 5 minutes
  • text to order a coffee (15 min earlier)

Field 9. – Unique value proposition

Unique value proposition should be a single phrase describing the business promise to its users. It's a summary of the business future philosophy in terms of building positive user experience.


Café Mánual – a friendly local café serving only premium brand coffees, where a champion-barista won't keep you waiting more than 5 minutes, where you can order your coffee by texting and where you'll pay less than in a chain café.

Why to use
User Centered Design Canvas

I'm always looking for new tools that will help structure conversations or help me deputize system engineers and project managers as UXers. I saw the UCDC as one of those tools - I downloaded it and tested it while evaluating a proposal with one of our teams. UCDC is a good way for non-designers to analyze the product – it structures the conversation and presents the info in a visual hierarchy.

Krys Blackwood, Senior Lead UX Designer, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The UCDC is my new favorite weapon in our UX arsenal for quickly surfacing assumptions. With stakeholders from game teams, PR, marketing, community, and our own team of designers and engineers, there is never any shortage of opinions. Having a single artifact to pass around and chew up saves us a lot of time in aligning project goals against user needs and (quite literally) getting everyone on the same page.

Mike Metcalf, Web Design Lead at Blizzard

User Centered Design Canvas is extremely useful in structuring initial brainstorm sessions when building a website or application. It helped us and the clients we were working with to really focus on the client, transforming the initial ambitions to be more user focused.

Bart van der Zande, Head of Product at mr.Watson

What I particularly liked about the canvas is that it helps to define the business from the users' perspective, When I presented it to my client, they started to think about the users and understood how important user research, user testing and all related activities are. The canvas helped my project a lot. We refer to it when setting every new hypothesis.

Artem Kulitski, UX Designer

I found the Canvas very useful to design new products/services that will be relevant for the end-user. The Canvas is a very simple exercise that helps you to open your mind and start thinking as your customers does.

Federico Bianchi, Web Operation Manager at Snai

We've applied the canvas in few recent projects and found that it is a great starting point for any project size. We've tried to create our own questionnaires and find other tools but the Canvas so far is the most fitted for us.

Anh Doan, Product & Design Manager at GEEK Up

I love it! It’s a great tool for my developer-centric teams as it allows them to really be analytical in their approach which helps me get through design process without pulling out all of my hair!

Catherine Hicks, Product Designer

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Who created
User Centered Design Canvas

Alina Prelicz
Alina Prelicz-Zawadzka LinkedIn

Alina is a UX consultant with degree in social and cognitive psychology. She’s making use of her academic knowledge to gather and analyze data about businesses and users. Next to working as a UX specialist at UX design agency, Alina is also a dedicated university teacher, conducting courses on social psychology in design at the University of Wroclaw.

Leszek Zawadzki
Leszek Zawadzki LinkedIn

Leszek is a long-time designer and a natural entrepreneur. As a founder of UX design agency The Rectangles, he’s responsible not only for the company per se, but also for every creative bit his team provides. Leszek also teaches at the University of Wroclaw, where his main area of research and interest is human-centered approach to solving users and business problems. His other passion is digital analytics and conversion rate optimization.

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