Human-centred design in a nutshell

Human-centred design in a nutshell.

Human-centred design is a common-sense approach to designing, creating, building, writing, producing, adjusting and improving anything. Closely interwoven with co-design, Human Centred Design is not two-faced; it is design that is centred around people. This approach believes design should serve the needs of people and enhance their wellbeing, regardless of whether it’s a building, learning space, online platform or experience. 

To practice human-centred design we must value people and the planet. The health of the people is intricately tied to the health of the land. Imagine a sheet of blank paper in your mind and picture a person at the centre of the page. A people-centric foundation shapes why you do something, how it works, what it is even is. 


The process.

Human-centred design uses a process called design thinking.

Learn: Learning is all about identifying your bias and treating your perspective like information to contribute, rather than a lens to view the problem through. It also involves observing and identifying central people, learning about their behaviours, expectations and trying to deepen your understanding of ‘who, what and why’. 

Define: The second step takes information from your learnings and tries to concisely define the problem. You set the parameters of the project and proceed.

Ideate: This is the moment where imagination runs wild. You have a clearly defined problem and now you work together to co-create new ways forward. Ways, plural, this is key. Come up with tons of ideas, prioritise and build off each other. 

Sidenote: This whole process is most effective when it involves co-creation, or co-design. Co-designing ideas means you act as a support person in the ideation process. You help everyone to share their ideas and approaches to the challenge, rather than prioritising your own perspective.

Develop: The doing is a critical piece of the puzzle. Ideas are good, but execution is key. Ideas and conversations are only the foundations for developing a solution. 

Test: Solutions are never 100%. That’s why we call them prototypes, or tests. We want to test our ideas rapidly and in a cost effective way. Scrap paper, napkins, explaining our concepts, trialling the layout or product and getting instant feedback. The stages of design thinking are interconnected, it’s not a linear process. You jump back to ideate or you learn something new and need to redefine the problem.

Share: Pass on what you’ve learned to help others on their journeys’. Reflect. Celebrate. Plan forward. That’s the final stage. Reflections could be one year down the line, two weeks in, it’s all dependent on the timeline of the project. However, it’s always great to stay connected for a duration of time that is appropriate to the project, keeping everyone feeling valued and connected to what’s happening.