What is Human-Centred Design

What is Human Centred Design?
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The contemporary world witnesses a plethora of challenges as the society grows diverse
and more uncertain than ever before. Organizational stakeholders have responded to these
difficulties by employing differentapproaches in an attempt to remain competitive in the
changing business environment (Leverenz, 2014). The Twenty-first Century presentsfast-paced
changes affecting most human perspectives including consumption behaviors, the perception of
new products, and a growing complexity of hidden consumer needs. As such, the concept of the
human-centred design plays a significant role in creating solutions to the above changes.The
human-centred design emphasizes on the essence of integrating technological shift with people’s
needs and society as a whole. The concept brings together creativity, product design, research
capabilities among market researchersand development (R&D) analytical (Shin, 2014). The
human-centered design ensures that facilities, products, and services are useful and interactive
with the users, rather than being a source of problems. This paper discusses the methodology and
principles of human-centred design and their relationship with design thinking.
What is Human-Centred Design?
The human-centred design owes its development to semi-scientific disciplines including
ergonomics, computer science, and artificial intelligence (Norman 2013). In ergonomics,the
human-centred design is an approach to the design and development of systems aimed at making
them more useful and interactive with their users. This definition focuses on the use of systems
and applying social factors, utility knowledge, and techniques(Kumar, Maskara&Chiang, 2014).
The human-centred design has six core characteristics. They include the adoption of
multidisciplinary know-how and dimensions, clear understanding of end-users, tasks, and
environments, user-centric assessment refined design, the account of user experience, iterative
process, and last not least, the involvement of users during the design and development of a
product or service (Norman 2013).
The human-centred design proposes seven stages of human action that help designers to
bridge the gulf of execution and that of evaluation. The stages of implementation include plan,
specification, and performing. On the other hand, stages of evaluation include perceiving the
state of the world, interpretation, and comparison of the outcome (Norman 2013). Most behavior,
therefore, will require some of the stages but others remain unnecessary (Norman 2013).
However, it is worth noting that a sequence of activities is evident in which multiple loops of
feedback are used to direct further activities (Norman 2013).
The human action has three levels including visceral, behavioral, and reflective. The
physicalactivities involve people making quick and subconscious responses without awareness or
control (Shin, 2014). These reactions are only sensitive to the prevailing circumstances of the
situation. Immediate perception of designers describesemotional responses. The developers find
their products appealing concerning appearance, smell, sound or touch with no regard tothe
usability, understanding, and effectiveness of the product (Norman 2013). The behavioral level
has two fundamental characteristics, which include actions and analyses of products, services or
systems. This level is critical as it aligns activities of designers with the goals of designing.
Therefore, weighing of actions against expectations is essential(Shin, 2014). Positive
expectations come with positive outcomes (Norman 2013).
Last but not least, the reflective level entails cognition of designers. There is
unfathomable understanding, reasoning, and conscious decision-making taking place at the
reflective level (Norman 2013). A lot of analysis takes place at this level since it is slow, in-
depth, and cognitive. The designer takes a close look at the product, service, or system evaluates
the circumstances and actions surrounding (Norman 2013). The designer can predict likely
causes. It is worth noting that design must take place at the three levels of processing (Norman
Principles of Human Centred Design
Norman (2013) acknowledges that a mismatch between human competencies and
technological requirements is highly anticipated to occur (215). In this regard, to make good
designs the author proposes several principles that designers need to considerwhile preventing
error.It is critical to assume that mishaps will occur so as to undertake appropriate measures to
elude them from happening (Bunch et al., 2015).This section discusses these design principles.
First, the designers should put the knowledge needed to manipulate and put the world’s
technology into operation. This guideline does not require the developers to put all the
knowledge in the head. Rather, it is important to use technology when the people in the firm
have acquired adequate know-how. This situation will ensure that the individuals can perform
without in the world. This principle implies that the experts can utilize the technological
knowledge in the world in the design process to elude the chance of errors.
Second, the designers should use the power of natural and human-made challenges
including physical, logical, semantic, and socio-cultural. This design principle emphasizes the
need to apply power to force functions and physical mappings (Norman 2013). The third
principle entails bridging the gulf of execution and that of evaluation. Making everything
conspicuous both for implementation and evaluation is critical to preventing error in the action
stages. The application side requires the individual to avail ‘feed-forward’ information while
feedback information is necessary when evaluating the undertaking(Bunch et al., 2015). The
results of each action in the two gulfs should be available to enable the determination of a
system’s status in a consistent form with people’s goals, plans, and anticipations (Norman 2013).
Human Centered Design Methodology
The human-centred design process comprises several methodologies which guide
individuals to identify the right problems and find the right solutions. The spiral methodis one of
them, which consists of activities such as observation, ideation, prototyping, and testing(Bunch
et al., 2015).The four accomplishments are iterated and carried out in a repetitive cyclic manner,
hence the world spiral. The method adopts the double-diamond design of divergence-
convergence. Observation is the initial activity of the method (Norman 2013). It entails research
for information to determine customers’ needs and gauge whether they will consume the
products or services of the firm. The researchers reach out to the customers to study their
interests, motives, and actual needs (Norman 2013). From observation, the designers can define
the real problem and develop products that are people-centred. The observers must ensure that
they guide their research to focus on the target audience.
Ideation entails generation of the idea following a dedicated identification of people’s
needs. It can be done for both of the double diamonds to find the problem and to find the correct
solution (Norman 2013). This phase requires creativity and idea generation methods fall under
this activity. Here, major features include generation of liberal ideas without regard for the
preconceived constraints. The designer is encouraged to avoid criticizing other people’s thoughts
since the obvious one could contain creative insights that are convertible into useful products or
services. Prototyping involves putting each idea into test through mock-up of possible solutions
(Norman 2013). The Wizard of Oz method falls into this category, where mimicking of
enormous and powerful systems before building them. The method can be useful in the product
development stage. Prototyping during the product specification stage ensures a proper
understanding of the problem(Bunch et al., 2015).
Testing involves introducing the newly designed product or system to a small group of
people from the target audience. This activity provides the designers with the opportunity to
gather information through feedback concerning the prototypes. Testing the prototype using
groups or pairs of people who can discuss their feelings and experiences can provide crucial
information to the designers for modification or improving the design(Kumar, Maskara&Chiang,
2014). Testing occurs at the production specification stage. Iteration in human-centred design
process enables continual improvement and refinement of the product or system. It ensures
rigorous observation, prototyping, and testing (Norman 2013).
Design Thinking and its Relationship with HCD
Design thinking is a discipline that utilizes the sensibility and methods of a designer to
match users’ needs with technologically feasible and viable business strategies meant to drive
customer value and establish market opportunity (Leverenz, 2014). Design thinking entails lots
of perspiration. It incorporates fundamental customer insights in depth and rigorous prototyping
(Norman 2013). The primary aim is to go beyond the assumptions that hamper effective
solutions. Design thinking involves optimism, construction, and experiential mechanisms to
address the needs potential users of products, services, or systems (Vardouli, 2015). Businesses
have embraced design thinking to boost innovation and help in differentiating their brands as
well as quick availing of their goods to the market.
Design thinking relates to human-centred design in that it taps into capacities that most
out-mode problem-solving practices often overlook (Norman 2013). It focuses on creating
services, products, and systems that are user-centred. It relies on the ability of designers to be
intuitive, recognize patterns, and construct ideas that have emotional and functional implications.
Deign thinking processes embody three overlapping spaces including ideation, inspiration, and
implementation(Kumar, Maskara&Chiang, 2014). Inspiration involves identification of a
problem or opportunities that provoke the search for solutions. Ideation is the process that seeks
to generate, develop, and test ideas. Implementation is the path that designers use to move from
project phase into users’ lives.
Design thinking helps to develop ideas and transform them into systems, products or
services that are usable, enjoyable that people buy primarily because of their usability. Design
that fails to serve the needs of the people fails as people hesitate to purchase it. The design is the
totality of user experience comprisingsatisfaction, understandability, usability, and functionality.
However, a great design requires to be produced reliably, efficiently and most importantly on
Human-Centred Design Understanding of Humans
Human-centred design pictures people as the focal determinants of the design process.
HCD starts from establishing a deep empathy and understanding of human needs as well as their
motivations (Kumar, Maskara&Chiang, 2014). The multidisciplinary perspectives of people are
essential in the creation of successful designs. HCD gains significant benefits from the input of
varied perspectives and the creativity of individuals. Humans are not simple beings. Rather, they
are complex regarding the needs and preference. HCD takes into account of this complexity of
people as essential to producing great designs that are understandable and usable (Norman 2013).
Human behavior should be understood the way it is rather than the way designers would
wish it to be. In this vein, developers should not focus too much on technological requirements
while ignoring people (Norman 2013). In fact, technological breakthroughs can create problems
for the people if thehuman-centred design fails. Designers ought to establish a strong
understanding of technology and psychology of human beings. The psychology of individuals
has been shown to remain the same despite growing technological changes in the world. The
knowledge of the human psychology should be an essential component of the design process.
Ignoring people’s perspectives create problems which hinder the usability of products, systems,
or services (Norman 2013).
Good design must put the psychology aspect of individuals first. The human mind has
been shown to be immensely complex since it has undergone through a long evolutionary period
resulting in the development of specialized structures (Norman 2013). As such, the studies of the
human mindthrough multiple disciplines including social sciences, cognitive science, and
neuroscience among others have all converged to the conclusion that the understanding is till
mysterious (Norman 2013). One of the most cited mysteries is the difference between conscious
and unconscious human activities executed from the mind. People are unaware of the many
subconscious operations of their brains(Bunch et al., 2015).
Through his extensive experience as an industry consultant, Norman explores human-
centred design in a more practical approach. He uses everyday practices and activities in which
HCD has been applied and delivered desired results. The topics discussed in the new edition of
the book everyday things feature examples that are modern and can be relevant till 2038. The
principles of psychology will remain unchanged as long as other things surrounding human-
centred design will change. This approach renders numerous studies of human-centred design
ineffective in addressing the topic in modern times.
This paper has explored human-centred design broadly beginning with its conception,
through its principles, its relationship with design thinking, and the understanding of individuals.
HCD focuses on the use of various methods to ensure that products, services, and systems meet
the needs of the people. Usability is a vital prerequisite of good designs.The human-centered
design applies in numerous disciplines including engineering, social platforms, business and
industry, and healthcare. The general idea of HCD is to enhance usability, functionality of
products or systems all aimed at meeting the desired needs of the people. It ensures that the
resulting product is easily understandable and usable. Additionally, HCD process ascertainsthe
accomplishment of desired tasks as well as making the effect enjoyable besides yielding positive
outcomes. Users of designed products, services or systems should feel the pride of utilizing
them. Their reliability and effectiveness should cause joy among the users. Therefore, it is worth
noting that the human-centred approach provokes thinking, creativity, and self-motivation
thereby increasing the likelihood of achieving the desired goals in any production process.
Bunch, L., Bradshaw, J. M., Hoffman, R. R., & Johnson, M. (2015). Principles for Human-Centered
Interaction Design, Part 2: Can Humans and Machines Think Together?. IEEE Intelligent
Systems, 30(3), 68.
Kumar, A., Maskara, S., & Chiang, I. (2014).Building a prototype using Human-Centered Design to
engage older adults in healthcare decision-making. Work, 49(4), 653-661.
Leverenz, C. S. (2014). Design Thinking and the Wicked Problem of Teaching Writing. Computers and
Composition, 331-12.
Norman, D. A. (2013).User-centered system design. New Perspectives on Human-Computer Interaction,
L. Erlbaum Associates Inc., Hillsdale, NJ.
Shin, D. (2014). A socio-technical framework for Internet-of-Things design: A human-centered design
for the Internet of Things. Telematics and Informatics, 31519-531.
Vardouli, T. (2015).Attitudes to human-artifact engagements. Design Studies, 41(Part A), 137-161.

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