Human-centred design

2 min read

So, what is Human-centred design (HCD) and why do we use it to guide our thinking?

We’re all designers at Common Good and by that I mean we’re all problem solvers. We’re strategists, researchers, designers and coders working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for the end users of our products - people.

It’s possible you’ve heard this pitch before, and rightly so, problem solving and collaboration are what all design-led agencies should be great at. But outside of the expert thinkers and makers in the room, what behaviours and tools do we have at our disposal to help us learn and fully grasp the finer details of a problem or opportunity? How do we create great products people truly want to embrace?

With the help of Human-centred design.

So what does Human-centred design actually mean?

IDEO, the award winning design firm, have spent a long time formalising the HCD approach (you can read more about it here). This is how they describe it:

‘Human-centred design is a creative approach to problem solving … it’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.’

So put simply, HCD is a people focused approach to problem solving and discovering new solutions. Here at Common Good it helps us understand the issues from a people perspective so we can build new and better products to suit their needs and desires.

It’s important to point out HCD is not a project management or development process but a mindset and set of behaviours to help us learn and test our ideas with real people.

A key element of HCD is about getting out of the studio and interacting with the people a new product or service is going to effect. Once these connections have been made we ask for feedback and thoughts on our ideas and prototypes. By observing behaviours, developing empathy and understanding motivations we identify patterns to help us develop our thinking and improve our products.

Again, it’s important to note we don’t take everything we observe or are told as perfect insight. It’s up to us as designers, researchers and analysts to interpret the information and data we gather into strategic insight and ideas.

Like most processes and approaches one size doesn’t fit all. Common Good take elements from HCD, Agile and Lean UX methods to manage and inform all our work, but HCD is what helps unite the team in a common goal and gets us closer to the customer. It’s an approach which helps us strive to consistently create new and innovative digital products and services.

We firmly believe to have the best chance of people adopting your product you must involve them at every step of the way. This is why we employ an approach of Human-centred design at Common Good.

In the following posts we’ll take a closer look at some of the tools and techniques we use as part of HCD including prototyping and idea generation.

Read and watch more about Human-centred design:

IDEO Design Kit
David Kelley, IDEO, TED Talk