Let’s start with the basics..
What is Human-Centered Design (HCD)?
HCD is an approach that helps make sure new products are tailor-made to meet people’s needs and wants. It can be applied to both physical products, like airplanes, and digital solutions, like web and mobile applications. Creation of a successful product regardless of the industry lies at the intersection of Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability.
IDEO explains, “when you understand the people you’re trying to reach — and then design from their perspective — not only will you arrive at unexpected answers, but you’ll come up with ideas that they’ll embrace.”
By putting human beings at the heart of the product design process, not only do you focus on the underlying cause of the problem but also end up making a product that people will use. So rather than focussing on what the technologies are good for, the current capabilities or shortcomings, how they can fit into the business, or how to get started with them, think about what they mean for people by using the distinct promises (i.e. ease of use, interaction with different layers/surroundings, access and control information, etc.,) to guide our work.
The Iterative Phases of Human-Centered Design
Our HCD approach contains five overlapping phases, along with potential activities (including but not limited to) involved in each phase.
Learn: Analytics, User and Stakeholder Interviews, Contextual Inquiry, Cognitive Walkthroughs, Heuristic Walkthrough (for large usability issues), Focus Groups/Workshops, KJ method (for scenarios with several stakeholders)
Distill: Diagramming, User Personas, Scenarios, Journey Mapping, Process Maps, Design Principles
Make: Imagine/Brainstorm, Design Studio, Prototype, Storyboarding
Test: Usability Testing, A/B testing, Stakeholder feasibility testing
Refine: QA, Finishes Touches, Nail down workflow
The output of these design sprint feeds the development sprint in which the development team focuses on developing based on the chosen theme for the hypothesis statements. Throughout the product creation process, our design team not only collaborates with the development team but works in tandem so that the underlying focus on the user is never lost. Although in our experience having designers and developers work side by side is not the easiest of the collaboration, it is a much needed for creating a usable innovative product.
What we have learnt
Tangible and Expressive Concepts: To understand what people desire, think, and feel, we present our users with tangible and expressive solutions. Presenting the users with a tangible concept that still offers room for input, motivates the users to see the potential and they are open to sharing ideas. However, when the users are given something too polished, they look for flaws.
Enhancing human ability: Product team should always view product creation as a medium to enhance human ability to perform task(s). Having that as a primary driver, provides the design team the creative runway to design for the present while planning for the future.
Question Assumptions: To fail fast and iterate to design a usable product, start with the riskiest assumptions. We include assumptions not only in the hypothesis statements but also in the user personas. Having the assumptions laid out in the user personas, allows the user researcher to question and validate them with the users and their personality traits and thus never be blindsighted.
Removing Paths not Taken: To radically focus and simplify an experience, remove irrelevant selections for a user once they’ve chosen a path. This creates not only for a better user experience but also reduces the burden on the product team.
As we build new innovative products, we continue to iterate our product design and delivery approach. Our goal is to create products that are usable, flexible, scalable, and long-lasting and that solve the users pain-points and address their needs. We put human-beings first, creating empathy for everyone involved, and making the most of the available resources.