Human centered design (HCD) is a problem-solving methodology that starts and ends with users. Instead of basing design decisions on profit, efficiency or aesthetic goals, this approach is rooted in human empathy. Each facet of the design process tightly orbits around the user’s perspective and experience—their needs, limitations, habits and aspirations are the critical inputs driving the solution. Users lead the way, and designers pave the path behind them.
Letting Users Lead
A core tenant of HCD is handing initiative to the user. Designers must leave their own assumptions at the door and step into their users’ shoes. This involves observing users in their natural environment: What are they trying to accomplish? How do they solve problems? When do they get frustrated?
Asking the right questions and gathering continuous feedback ensures the design solves your users’ needs rather than your own. User interviews and iterative usability testing with prototypes inject user input into the process at every step.
Investing In Your Users
You may be wondering how you can afford the time for all this user analysis, prototyping and usability testing, but you should also ask whether you can afford not to. Consider the cost, from design to production, of developing a solution for the wrong problem. Programmers spend half their time on avoidable rework, and up to 15% of IT projects are abandoned altogether. Investing upfront in HCD lets you catch problems early on, limiting both rework and the risk of developing a product or service no one wants. Furthermore, many organizations overestimate the cost of incorporating users into their design process. As few as five participants can reveal the majority of design problems during usability testing.
Designing for a Human World
HCD can benefit nearly any enterprise, from urban architecture to travel lodging software to hospital capacity management. This month, the Biden Administration issued an executive order calling for federal agencies to implement HCD principles to improve Americans’ experience with public services.
Looking to improve your users’ experience too? At MBL Technologies, we employ a proven, flexible HCD approach to keep development teams laser-focused on meeting human needs. We can spearhead HCD initiatives on your behalf, teach your team to practice HCD on their own, or customize an approach around your specific budget or objective. Contact us to get started. Your users will thank you!