By putting your customers at the center of anything you design, your products and services become more usable, useful, and even, delightful. For over 25 years, we have taught organizations how to develop and implement a Human-Centered Design (HCD) practice so they will make an impactful, and positive difference in their customers’ everyday lives.
What is Human-Centered Design?
Human-Centered Design is an approach for designing products and services based on the wants and needs of your customers. HCD is widely applicable and can bring benefits to projects such as building a website to adding signage for wayfinding around your building. It involves regular listening and inclusion of customers’ input as you figure out what to design and how to design it. If you practice HCD, you are being goal-driven, empirical, iterative, collaborative, and making sure your solutions are scalable.
The Journey to Maturing Your Human-Centered Design Practice
Most of our government, healthcare, and non-profit clients are just getting started on their journey to practice HCD. This usually looks like a small team with a strong design advocate within a large organization working over time to gather, analyze, and incorporate customer feedback to a website or customer service experience.
This team occasionally runs surveys about the current experience and asks customers for feedback about an upcoming change to their website or service. The team members share many responsibilities ranging from communications, design, research, and development. Folks in this situation often tell us that HCD is what they do after their “day job” or core duties are done. They can encounter a lot of resistance from teams outside their department and are regularly constrained in the scope of changes they can make in response to customer feedback.
In many situations, these teams are working far downstream in the business processes that add value to the customer experience. For example, the team is getting feedback on a website that has already been developed and is nearly ready to launch.
The journey to maturing the HCD practice in your organization includes shifting your attention and impact to business processes that are farther upstream. For example, testing concepts with customers and making changes to design beforecoders have developed the website.
Eventually, HCD may even be incorporated into your organization’s business strategy shaping not just how you design but what you design. We can help you make the case and plan an internal campaign to raise the awareness and adoption of HCD beyond your team members currently fighting their way to practice it.
The Benefits of Using Human-Centered Design
HCD may be looking to solve one problem for a particular set of users but can end up making products and services better for all.
Building products and services with Human-Centered Design in mind can benefit your organization by:
- Empathizing with your customer’s wants and needs
- Gaining alignment on a problem by drawing in various team members and perspectives
- More effective development by building the right thing
- Less costly mistakes
- Designing better products and services
- Improving their experience and quality of life
We offer training and coaching that can help you gain competence, grow organizational capacity, and measure impact. Key HCD behaviors that we will train your team in include:
- Constant questioning of the problem
- Generating ideas around user research insights
- Involving multiple perspectives and sharing ownership of ideas
- Showing instead of telling
- Finding safe ways to make mistakes early and often
- Having a bias towards action
- Placing user needs above all else
If these issues sound familiar to you, your team and organization may be at a tipping point to level up your HCD practice and impact.