How to use human-centered design to solve complex business problems
“People ignore design that ignores people” – Frank Chimero, author ‘The Shape of Design’
The biggest mistake designers can make is focusing too heavily on the product and forgetting the people who will use that product. At its core, human centered design is about creating products that meet the needs of users, resulting in increased engagement. Human-centered design goes beyond user-centered design to consider the behavioral, environmental, and emotional contexts in which consumers exist. Human-centered design is a two-step process: first is observation and second is putting yourself in the shoes of the end-user. This could involve designing a prototype, testing it, asking customers for feedback, refining based on the findings, and so on.
Great inventions arise from inventors who are struck by innovative ideas to solve problems they encounter in their daily lives. So why not adopt a similar approach to design? After all, designs need to be user-friendly in order for end-users to adopt them. More than ever, technology holds the potential to better understanding consumers’ wants and needs, and designing products around consumers can give your business the competitive advantage you’re looking for. In addition to getting to know your customers through data mining, you should also consider conducting interviews, focus groups, or analyzing consumer behavior.
Human-centered design involves shifting the focus of questions businesses seek to answer. Consider the examples of Uber and Airbnb – instead of asking questions like “how can we cut business expenditures?” or “what promotions can we use to attract new customers?”, senior level managers sought to answer questions like “how can we personalize the transportation industry?” or “how can we make people feel at home anywhere in the world?”. Uber and Airbnb designed business models around the end-user, resulting in a service that has been rapidly adopted by consumers around the world and has disrupted the transportation and travel industries.
DESIGNING FOR THE END-USER
Human-centered design revolves around the end-user. Consider the failure of the nutrition label – the idea was to provide consumers with more information about the foods they eat in order for them to make more informed healthy decisions. But what the design failed to consider was the complex nature of diet and healthy eating, and the factors that go into food choices. The average consumer doesn’t know about ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats, or complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. The labels are an overload of information and it’s too difficult for consumers to make informed decisions by synthesizing the information on nutrition labels. A human-centered design approach would have involved consumers throughout the design process in order to develop a more user-friendly nutrition label.
HOW TO USE HUMAN CENTERED DESIGN TO SOLVE BUSINESS PROBLEMS
Inspiration often comes from external sources – incorporating end-users throughout the design process can result in innovative design ideas that your design team may not have considered. Step out from your office into the spaces your users occupy and the result will be a product that resonates better with your customers.
Consumers want to feel connected to the brands they choose. And with instant access to a global marketplace, consumers have more choices at their disposal than ever. Involving consumers in the design process will help establish your brand as one that cares about consumers and fills a gap to meet their needs.
The best designs don’t start with the latest technology or digital tool; they start by understanding people. Human-centerhted design generates solutions that align with consumers’ desires, and are both feasible and viable. So be sure to include consumer feedback throughout the design and development stages and the result will be a product or service that people are more likely to use or purchase.
Hopefully this has sparked your creativity to consider ways in which human-centered design could be used to set your business apart from the rest. Want to learn more about human centered design? Consider studying digital service design at Brunel University London.
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