Usability is a growing issue for developers of scientific software. Scientists seeking software to support scientific discovery and funding bodies seeking better return on investment increase the pressure to produce scientific software that has an impact beyond a limited set of users (that is, scientists in a single lab). However, developing software for even a limited set of users is challenging, and commercial design techniques are rarely available for scientific software development in academic settings. Lessons learned from a case study in which developers integrated usability and user-centered design (UCD) methods into an image-data-management software suite for cell biologists might be useful to others working in similar contexts. © 2009 IEEE.