UCID (whole donut approach)

Innovation to enable change

What is UCID?

UCID is a user-centered approach to technical writing (or user assistance development). UCID requires the integration and streamlining of all the four information elements that software users interact with: printed manuals, online Help, messages, and user interface labels. Integration and streamlining ensure that all the information elements work together and serve the new higher objective, which is "improved software usability."

A top technology trend American Library Association



Pradeep Henry created UCID. His first ideas originated in the late 80s while working on software development projects executed for IBM offices worldwide. He improved on the idea based on knowledge gained through a software usability course he took at UC Berkeley (Extn) in 1994-95. Henry shared the approach in his book published in 1998 by Artech House, USA.



UCID is executed by a technical writer trained in usability or user-centric design.

Did UCID influence the tech writing discipline?

The first project, where a precursor of UCID was used, involved the development of a large software product for IBM Nordic Lab, Sweden in 1989-1992.

UNISYS, USA offered company-wide UCID training to their technical writing staff. In response to their request, Henry produced a video introduction to the training, which was based on his book. Video title: “Intro to Usability-Driven Technical Communication” (May 29, 2002)

WritersUA, USA hosts a premier user assistance conference every year. Downloaded on January 03, 2013, the tagline (Better UX Through Better UA) at WritersUA.com is a lot more catchier than – but means exactly the same as – the title of the UCID book of the 90s. This might – just might – suggest influence or popularity of UCID back then.

Read Repositioned global technical writers for prominent new role.

Publications about the method

Links retrieved July 16, 2016.


Favorable reviews by ACM, IEEE, and American Library Association

Publisher: Artech House, USA
About publisher: A leader in forward-looking technical titles by the world’s top authorities for professionals and students
Title: User-Centered Information Design for Improved Software Usability
Date: 1998
Web: ArtechHouse.com or Click here


Publisher: Society for Technical Communication (STC), USA
About publisher: World’s largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of the field of technical communication
Publication: Intercom
Title: Change Your Goal, Extend Your Role
Date: February 2000
Web: Intercom.STC.org

Publisher: Webcom Communications, USA
Publication: Software Developer & Publisher (renamed Software Business)
Title: Re-Directing Your Documentation Efforts for Product Usability
Date: November 1998
Web: webcomcommunications.com

Favorable reviews

Publisher: ACM, USA
About publisher: World’s largest professional association for advancing computing as a science and profession
Publication: Computing Reviews
Date: September 1998
Reviewer: Richard L. Upchurch
Web: www.computingreviews.com (need an account; retrieved November 7, 2015)
Download: Click

Publisher: IEEE, USA
About publisher: World’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology
Publication: IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
Issue: Date June 2001, Volume 44, Issue 2
Reviewer: Whitney Beth Potsus
Web: Click (retrieved November 7, 2015)
Or: email Henry for a PDF of the review

Publisher: American Library Association (Library & Information Technology Association)
About publisher: Leads the development and improvement of library, information services, and librarianship
Title: The Top Technology Trends
Date: 2002
Web: ALA.org OR Click and find on this page (retrieved November 7, 2015)
Download: Click

Citations in other publications

Pradeep Henry’s book and articles on UCID have been cited in over 50 books and in publications including the following:

Invited speeches

Organizer: UNISYS, USA
Video title: “Intro to Usability-Driven Technical Communication”
Date: May 29, 2002

Organizer: WritersUA.com, USA
About organizer: A premier source for user assistance (technical writing) conferences; Nine thousand people have attended their signature annual conferences
Invite: Pradeep Henry was invited to speak about UCID at the 9th annual technical writing conference, March 4-8, 2001, Santa Clara, California; Henry could not honor invitation
Web: WritersUA.com

Organizer: Society for Technical Communication India Chapter
About organizer: Parent STC is the world’s largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of the field of technical communication
Title: Information Design for Product Usability
Event: STC India Conference
Date: December 4, 1999
Venue: Bangalore, India
Web: STC-India.org

Media coverage

Publication: EE|Times
Publisher: UBM Electronics, USA
About publisher: Global leader in media and marketing solutions for the electronics industry
Title: Good information design makes good information
Date: September 26, 2000
Web: EETimes.com