Sadly, the term ‘human-centred design’ (HCD) is often thrown around in business meetings without a thorough understanding of its significance or how it deviates from traditional design methods. It’s not in the nature of any software developer, user interface designer or chief information officer, to neglect the user’s needs while developing software and hardware. Nonetheless, it’s evident that the human element is generally an afterthought instead of the foundation for designing most applications and tech products.
Suppose you were tasked with creating a new system to manage time off requests; a typical IT firm would concentrate on workflows, outlining the steps required for approval procedures and other necessary software processes.
When considering data as the basis for a prospective business venture, it becomes crucial to determine the vital data needed and the most suitable contacts to gather it. Additionally, an external company may evaluate the availability of current technological resources that could be useful in developing a feature for time off requests.
Out of various strategies, human-centred design stands out because of its emphasis on users as the foundation. To attain a favourable outcome, consulting with end-users and availing the services of professional designers to create functional, yet visually appealing technology is imperative.
By embracing the principles of Human-Centered Design (HCD) when handling vacation requests, it allows for consideration of the underlying motivations behind the request. For instance, why is it necessary to submit requests? Is it to guarantee the appointment of a replacement worker in advance? Are there concerns of employees misusing their vacation time, hence a need for stricter regulations? Could there be a faster and more effective method for granting permissions or managing time off for everyone involved?
Everyone has the ability to design.
For numerous businesses, particularly those in the technology industry, humans are a critical starting point because they are the ones who will eventually interact with the technology. Although systems, processes and data are essential factors in a business’s success, the importance of having the user in mind while designing technology cannot be overstated. Human-Centred Design (HCD) allows us to achieve this objective, preventing the possibility of designing successful technology that goes unused.
Managers often misunderstand Human Centred Design (HCD) for visual design, which primarily concentrates on form and function. A product or system can be visually attractive, but in reality, challenging to use.
Upon considering the products we frequently utilise and cherish, it becomes evident that the designs and features are often incredibly well-matched to our needs, giving us the impression that the manufacturer has telepathically understood our thoughts. The buttons and other controls are placed precisely where one would expect them to be, making use of the product an easy task without the need for extra training. Hence, aesthetic and visual elements may not be given much consideration.
It’s quite obvious that a design does not have to be expertly made to be perceived as overly complex or confusing. Thus, we may have mistakenly perceived Human-Centred Design (HCD) as a complex and specialist field, similarly to other pioneering concepts.
Undoubtedly, there are distinct design and research proficiencies that may hasten the success of Human-Centred Design (HCD) campaigns. Nevertheless, by acknowledging that poorly designed products can be arduous to use, we can begin implementing the knowledge we possess. If given enough time and effort, anyone can learn to solve problems by prioritising the needs of people, as opposed to the technical aspects involved.
Instead of restructuring your team to integrate Human-Centred Design (HCD), consider identifying a project that hasn’t started design or requirement-gathering yet. Some of your staff or development partners may have expertise or interest in HCD, in addition to experience in fields like visual or product design, anthropology, and ethnographic research.
Make a case to the project’s stakeholders that Human Centred Design (HCD) will aid in the creation of a more efficient and superior quality product. Clarify that the inaugural stage of design may take longer than their usual process of documenting and collating requirements, and may feel different. While it may be demanding to prioritise people over technology, data, or processes, following this approach can provide a solution. Aim to attain the objective, rather than striving for flawlessness.
As you advance from the development phase through testing and deployment of your new tool, appraise the efficacy of Human-Centred Design (HCD). Are the feedback and results of user testing encouraging? Does the new tool necessitate minimal training and instruction? Is there a high rate of acceptance and satisfaction with the tool’s use? Did your team enjoy the challenge of surpassing mere compliance with instructions, and instead understand the human context of the situation?
Human-Centred Design (HCD) has a remarkable additional advantage, which is reducing needless debates during the design process. Estimating the demands and actions of end-users necessitates a significant amount of energy from teams. Frequently, these questions can devolve into a clash of ideas, with the individual possessing the most expertise or the loudest voice dominating the discussion.
Human-Centred Design (HCD) can frequently resolve these issues by directly interacting with, and observing real people. Although opinions may differ regarding the preferable design, there is usually little dispute concerning the feedback obtained from those who will be using the system.
Widespread Use of HCD
Just as a hammer is not the sole tool for carpentry, Human-Centred Design (HCD) is not the only factor in system development. Nevertheless, many of the requisite tools engaged in the development process will necessitate an element of human input. Taking into account HCD, alongside software selection and security considerations, can enhance the team’s productivity in the long run.
As you gain more awareness about Human-Centred Design (HCD), it’s advisable to examine HCD concepts with your current teams. Alternatively, you can leverage the HCD expertise of your colleagues to expedite your HCD initiatives. It’s feasible that these partners are already integrating HCD strategies and practices into their workflow, and would probably be willing to demonstrate how they’re implementing HCD.
When used suitably, delving into Human-Centred Design (HCD) can be advantageous to your team. It can lead to the delivery of excellent programs, boost adoption rates, lower costs, and reinforce connections with the individuals who will benefit foremost from your work. Starting small and concentrating on concerns that HCD is best suited for can enable you to promptly grasp the merits and demerits of the approach with minimal risk.