Human Centered Design Methodology

Human Centered Design Methodology

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Term2.png Human Centered Design Methodology

Human Centered Design (HCD) is a process used to create new solutions for the world. These solutions can include products, services, environments, organizations and multiple modes of interaction. Human-Centered Design is used to overcome the poor design of software products. By emphasizing the needs and abilities of those who are to use the software, it improves the usability and understandability of products. The reason this process is called “human-centered” is because, as opposed to Activity-Centered Design, it starts with the people we are designing for. In other words it begins by examining the needs, dreams, and behaviors of the people through, what some call, the Desirability Lens.[1]

We view the world through the Desirability lens throughout the design process. Once desires and needs are identified, solutions can then be viewed through the lenses of Feasibility and Viability. We carefully bring in these lenses during the later phases of the process (See image).

Three lenses.png

The process of human-Centered Design starts with a specific Design Challenge and goes through three main phases[2]:

Hear the needs of the people and communities for whom you are designing. During the hearing phase, the designer conducts field research, collects stories, interviews, documentation, and seeks inspiration by spending time within the community. This phase does not consist in observation and interpretation only; instead it heavily involves the community members who act as participants.

Create innovative approaches to meet their needs. In the creating phase, the design team works together in a workshop format to translate what was heard from people into frameworks, opportunities, solutions, and prototypes. During this phase we move from concrete to more abstract thinking in identifying themes and opportunities, and then back to the concrete with solutions and prototypes.

Deliver solutions that suit specific cultural and economic contexts. The process will move your team from concrete observations about people, to abstract thinking as you uncover insights and themes, then back to the concrete and tangible solutions. The delivering phase will realize solutions through rapid revenue and cost modeling, capability assessment, and implementation planning. This will help launch new solutions into the world.

The Advantages[3]:

• Designer adapts to the person or community.

• Can overcome the poor design of products.

• Improves usability and understandability of products.

• Fewer errors during usage of products.

• Faster learning times.

The Disadvantages[4]:

• Software complexity still remains.

• Can lead to too specialized products, making its less appropriate for others.

• The focus upon humans may detract from supporting the activities themselves.

• Too much attention to the needs of the users can lead to a lack of cohesion and added complexity in the design.

See also: Learner-centered approach, Needs Analysis

Link icon.png Web Resources
Find below some additional resources.
Link Content
Human Centered Design Human Centered Design
Human Centered Design Human Centered Design Methodology: and example of application with UAV's mission


  1. IDEO “Human Centered Design Toolkit”
  2. HCD Connect, “HCD Toolkit 2nd Edition”