In a business world that moves extremely fast, companies have to innovate quickly to stay ahead of the competition. The goal is always to create a product that user's will need and love. To achieve the best results possible, many businesses are adopting Human-Centered Design (HCD) principles into their product development processes. HCD focuses on the end-users of a product or service. It determines their requirements and helps to design solutions that are going to meet those requirements.
In this article, you’ll see briefly what HCD is all about and some of the advantages it brings to the table. Then you’ll learn more about the design process that will allow you to implement Human-Centered design into your organization and your products.
What is Human-Centered Design?
First, it's essential to understand what HCD is and why it's important. Human-centered design is an approach to problem-solving that involves the human perspective in all steps of the process. Simply put, it's empathetically designing for people. Nowadays, there is an over-reliance on rational problem-solving, so many people in the tech and science industries completely disregard emotions and human perspective from being important parts of the problem-solving process. By doing this, they completely eliminate the most multi-faceted and complex part of the whole problem, which is our users - the humans.
Read more about the importance of human-centered design in today's business world.
Benefits of Human-Centered Design
Saves time and resources: Human-centered design can save a great amount of your developers' time because a lot of work that they do is completely avoidable. Whether it's due to poor planning or poor research beforehand, the point is that there is avoidable work that can be eliminated by implementing human-centered design processes.
Increases user satisfaction: HCD helps businesses create products and services that are informative, helpful, accessible, easy, and timely, which are key factors in creating a positive customer experience and improving customer satisfaction. By designing products and services tailored to the end users specific needs, businesses can create a better overall customer experience, which can lead to increased loyalty and repeat business. If the design is keeping in mind users needs and their perspective, then they will usually be excited to start using the new ideas and designs.
Better product success: Human-centered design can be used to develop both physical and digital products. The latter benefit particularly from the approach, as their success depends significantly on the interaction with users. By designing products that meet the needs of users, businesses can improve the chances of success and market acceptance of their products.
Creates a product that enhances users' everyday life: Lastly, the most important point is that you will be creating a product that enhances your users' everyday life. Some people who work at the lab have been using your software for decades, so we need to empower them and do our due diligence by implementing the human-centered design process that benefits everybody.
Implementing Human-centered Design in Your Organization
While adopting HCD principles can lead to better products and greater business success, putting them into practice is far from easy. Organizations may face challenges such as difficulty changing or a lack of resources. To successfully implement HCD principles, best practices such as involving stakeholders throughout the process, focusing on the needs of the users, and continuously iterating and improving the process must be followed. It's also critical to track metrics like user satisfaction or revenue growth to determine the success of HCD in your organization.
The Design Process
Above, you can see an image of the human-centered design process popularized by the company IDEO. There are three main phases:
The inspiration phase involves unearthing user problems by conducting user research. In the ideation phase, the findings are transformed into insights, and from those insights, potential solutions are created in the form of mock-ups or prototypes. The implementation phase considers technical restraints such as the team's tech stack or skill level, and the team works together to bring the solutions to life.
Each phase has sub-steps in between, which we will explore shortly. Before we delve into each phase in more detail, let's first understand what the arrows on the image represent. As you can see, there are up and down arrows throughout the image, which represent divergent and convergent thinking. The process starts with divergent thinking, a non-linear approach that involves exploring problems or solutions with an open-minded approach without limits. Then, you move into convergent thinking, a more straightforward process that defines specific solutions within limits.
The Inspiration Phase involves two sub-steps:
Strategizing requires you to talk with all the major stakeholders involved in your project to understand the business mission, technical side of the project, and its values. This information is crucial in designing a product that aligns with the overarching goals of the project. Once you understand the project's goals, you head into the discovery step where you set up one-on-one interviews with your users to listen for their pain points, motivations, and anything else that you can gather through an interview. Gathering data about your users' context can bring light to any external factors that may affect their experience when using your product. There are various ways to collect valuable data, including attitudinal (what people say) and behavioral (what people do) data. Generally, we should rely more on the behavioral data because actions speak louder than words. These data sets can be qualitative (a user's opinion) or quantitative (measurable numerical data points). A blend of quantitative and qualitative data offers a more holistic view of your users, and wherever you see conflicts in your data, it generally brings more interesting points when you further investigate them.
Once you've analyzed your data, you move to the Ideation Phase, which includes
In brainstorming, you aim to bring out as many solutions as possible to see what sticks and what doesn't. It's essential to avoid holding back in this step to prevent the risk of coming up with a better idea later in the development process, as it would cost too much time and money to go back and implement something that should have been implemented from the beginning. Failing early can lead to succeeding sooner. Once you've generated some good ideas, you move into the design step, where you start designing prototypes. You generally want to start with the lowest fidelity, which is sketching on paper and pen. As you validate your sketches, you gradually increase the level of fidelity with each iteration until you get a high-fidelity prototype that you can hand off to your developers. This prototype is the closest to what the actual product will look like and will help developers code faster due to the lack of ambiguity. After everything is validated, you move on to the next phase, which is Implementation.
The Implementation phase involves
During testing, you sit down with your users and test the prototypes based on their feedback. You make improvements or revisions based on their input and your previous research. Once your prototypes are validated, you hand them off to developers to start coding. After the coding is complete, you should go back to the testing step and test the developed product with your users again, iterating over and over until your users are satisfied with the product.
Embracing HCD (Human-Centered Design) principles can be a transformative strategy and a differentiator factor for organizations seeking to innovate and deliver superior products that truly resonate with their users. By following a practical, step-by-step framework, like the one we present in this article, organizations can successfully integrate HCD principles into their product development process and significantly increase their likelihood of success. It's crucial to keep in mind that HCD starts with a deep understanding of users' needs and desires, which is then translated into thoughtful, user-focused design solutions. This approach emphasizes that software should never be developed in isolation from the people who will ultimately use it.
At Solwey, designing human-centered applications is our bread and butter. We provide design and development services that allow you to create the software you need. With our efficient and comprehensive process, if your company needs to develop an application, you'll be ready to launch your project in no time. Get started immediately by scheduling a call. We look forward to hearing from you soon.