Human-centered design is a design structure that centralizes human needs, behaviors, wants, contexts, and analyzes the potential issues that users might encounter when using a particular product or service. Basically, designing a product or service that prioritizes a user-friendly experience from the start till the end. The more human-centric the design is, the more seamless the customer journey experience is.
In this blog, our mentors Gavin Mandrelle, the Service designer at RMIT University in Australia, and Priscila Luna, the Service Design Specialist & UX at The Ksquare Group in Mexico will explain more in-depth on this topic.
“No matter how you spell it, how you call it, human-centered design, as the name suggests, is humans at the center of design. Humans at the heart of the problem and the solution.” - Gavin.
Priscila defines human-centered design as:
“A framework that focuses on design decisions should be based on the needs and desires of users, these decisions are the result of a process of empathy, you must understand activities, the environment, expectations and needs of users who will use the product or service so that their input are the basis and what guides throughout the creative process. I see it as the thought of designing with empathy, with purpose, and openness and delivering value.”
According to IDEO (a global design company), human-centered design is “A creative way to problem-solving – one that starts with people, and ends with innovative solutions tailored to meet their needs.”
The HCD process developed by IDEO looks like the above image. It looks a bit like a roller coaster. It has three phases:
Note: it doesn’t ‘end’ in implementation because design doesn't (and shouldn’t) end. It’s a continuous process when it is out in the world.
Do you recall the key points I (Gavin) called out earlier? How do they plot along the HCD process?
In the ‘Inspiration' phase, the problem is identified, framed, and explored. The people impacted by the problem are identified, spoken with and their needs understood. These should organically lead you towards the ideation stage.
In the ideation stage, you will go through a process of generating lots of ideas with the identified people, and also test them to learn what the sentiment is around the ideas. Some of these ideas might be really far fetched, however, it is highly encouraged to generate as many ideas as possible in this stage.
Some questions to test around the ideas are:
Once you’ve decided which idea to implement, and put the idea into the world for your users to use, you should again go through a continuous process of ‘measure and learn’ to see what is working with users, what isn’t, and what improvements can be done to the solution over time.
The Design Council UK’s design process might look different from IDEO’s process at a glance. As the name suggests, the design process is visualized as two diamonds.
The first diamond is the ‘discovery’ and ‘define’ phase. The second diamond is the ‘develop’ and ‘deliver’.
Here’s how the key points plot along this map. It’s exactly the same as the previous one.
IDEO calls design thinking “A human-centered approach to innovation, that is anchored in understanding customer’s needs, rapid prototyping, and generating creative ideas, that will transform the way you develop products, services, processes, and organizations. Successful innovations rely on some element of human-centered design. Design thinking helps achieve that balance by finding the interconnection of feasibility, viability, and desirability while considering the real needs and desires of people.”
In this explanation, feasibility is looking at the technological capabilities or constraints currently available within the organization that might enable you to implement the solution. Viability is looking at the business and financial capabilities or constraints currently available within the organization to enable you to implement the solution.
The design thinking process has been visualized here by IDEO.
HCD methods are the vehicles that will allow us to travel the course of the map by uncovering the complex problems, speaking to people (aka interviews, user testing), immersive sessions of shadowing and observing users in their environment, card sorting, etc. There are plenty of methods to choose from, and you might not use every method for every project. Use the method or methods that best meet the outcome of your project, or what it is you are trying to solve.
The good news is, anyone can. You would need a few key ingredients to practice human-centered design:
“Design thinking is a very important catalyst to bring all people together; it is a tool that allows us all to listen to each other in an orderly manner. The professional titles of the profile today may vary, but the constant is that they are people who are problem solvers, good at detecting insights and areas of opportunity.”- Priscila.
“Design is not only about aesthetics and visuals. It's part of our responsibility as designers to show that it is more about delivering value.”- Priscila.
“There are plenty of products, services, and businesses out there that are not being used because they have been created without people in mind. Human-centered design is designing with people, and designing for purpose, for the planet, and people.”- Gavin.
You could also read about Service Design by Gavin on What is Service Design here.
Editor and Writer:
Content Marketer and Writer at ADPList
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