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Human-Centered Design

The Approach That Never Fails

Human-Centered Design

Katia Arias 1 comments

Whether you run a large multinational or a successful foundation, if you don’t know what your target market wants you’re most likely going to stumble.

Over the years we’ve seen organizations waste time and money launching products that don’t work. Either they didn’t understand their markets or didn’t pay attention to important details early in the process.

To avoid this from happening, various organizations from universities to design firms have adopted the “Human-Centered Design” approach, where client feedback becomes the essential component in every product and service’s development.

 

So, What is Human-Centered Design?

 As +Acumen beautifully states it, Human-Centered Design is “innovation inspired by people”. It is a framework used by designers and managers to find solutions for pressing problems considering their beneficiaries’ perspective in every step of the problem-solving process.

hcd-circles

Source: SD23 Makes

 

How do you differentiate HCD from a traditional design process?

 As said by IDEO.org, you know your design is Human-Centered when “you’ve kept the very people you’re looking to serve at the heart of the process”

It all starts with empathy. To build a successful product, “solutioners” must clearly understand the deepest needs and incentives of their target market. To do so, it is crucial to observe, ask and spend quality time with your clients. Unless you know and live the hassles of their everyday life, you won’t understand the depth and gravity of a problem.

Going further, because HCD it is based on empathy, it must be collective. When you look for human-centered solutions you won’t find them behind a desk by yourself. The more you get involved in your client’s life and the more feedback you get from them, the easier it will be to understand the solution that they’re craving. Plus, having more people in your research and development team brings more perspective and creativity into the process.

And finally, HCD is different from traditional design because it relies on constant experimentation. Human-Centered solutioners think big but start small. They learn by doing and build the solution based on feedback. This takes more time but saves a lot of resources, mitigates risks and secures success. After all the solution was pretty much given to you by those who will use it.

Source: Grameen Foundation

 

 That said, what are the necessary steps to develop a Human-Centered Design Process?

 First, you need to get out there and understand your target market’s problem and ideas for solutions. +Acumen calls this the Discovery phase.

Later on, after you’ve gathered all your key information and have a clear understanding of your market’s needs, you move to what IDEO.org calls the Ideation phase. Here your team and you start brainstorming for creative solutions to solve your market’s most pressing problem.

Once you’ve landed a couple great ideas you start the Prototyping phase, where you bring to life an initial “sketch” of your solution and present it to the public for feedback.

Based on this feedback you continue your development process until you reach the final version of the solution and the Implementation phase.

Source: IDEO.org

 

What tools can be used to successfully complete every step of the process?

 Throughout your discovery phase, you will be observing and contextualizing most of the time. Some great tools to do this are: surveys, interviews, photo journals and guided tours (to help you live your beneficiaries’ daily life).

After you gather your information you need to map both people and needs to start ideating. You could use stakeholder maps, people profiles, problem tree analyses and some affinity clusters.

Then, for your prototyping phase, the LUMA Institute suggests you storyboard and sketch your ideas before building them. Sketching the idea helps the team visualize the concept and storyboarding helps them understand how they expect users to adopt it. Then you can continue by creating rough prototypes out of simple materials to bring the concept to life.

If you want a complete guide of tools to research, understand and ideate for your target market, check “Innovating for People”: the LUMA Institute’s handbook for Human-Centered Design.

 

Source: Luma Institute

Source: Luma Institute

 What can you use Human-Centered Design For?

 According to +Acumen, you can use HCD, to create innovative products, services, spaces and systems.

Because HCD is based on human behavior and empathy, this approach can be used not only to build useful products but also to create better experiences for people, nurture more impactful relations and build more efficient facilities.

Who employs Human-Centered Design Today? 

Just to mention a few organizations:

IDEO – World leading design and consulting firm
+Acumen – Global learning platform for change makers
Stanford University – Ranking #3 in the world!
Grameen Foundation -Global nonprofit dedicated to sustainable development.
Frog – Global design and strategy firm.
Luma Institute – Global innovation learning platform for businesses and nonprofits.

Why should you employ Human-Centered Design? 

HCD will help you save time and money. By focusing on your beneficiaries from the start you are investing in products and services that are guaranteed to work. HCD mitigates risk and increases customer loyalty. Internally, HCD can also improve your design team’s creativity, open up their minds to more perspectives and put your company at the top when it comes to understanding your target market and delivering useful and innovative designs!

So don’t wait anymore to start involving your beneficiaries! I assure you it will pay off.

 

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1 Comment

Katia Arias

November 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm

[…] Read More: Human-Centered Design […]

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