| Why You Should Know about Human Centered Design |
What is Human-Centered Design?
Have you ever stood in line at a hospital and wondered why it takes so long to see a doctor? Have you ever seen the traffic light turn green and still the cars do not move as the traffic police was signaling otherwise? Have you ever bought a gadget just to find that you cannot get it to work, and when you call customer service they insist that you are not using it correctly? Have you ever wondered why policies don’t always work?
All too often we have to deal with products, services and policies that leave us frustrated because they come with many associated problems. The question then arises: “Who designed these? Could they not foresee obvious problems when designing the solutions?”
How to Overcome a design fail?
Poor design is often born out of isolation – it occurs when policymakers, designers and product developers decide what is best for their end-users without leaving their offices and talking with their users. This is where human-centered design (HCD) differs from other design principles. It is a methodology for coming up with solutions while always keeping the human need in mind. HCD begins with understanding human wants, needs and values and ends up with solutions that are tailor made to suit those needs.
“Human Centered Design provides solutions that are tailor made to suit the needs of the end users.”
A Local Example Showing Why Human Centered Design Is So Important
It sounds quite obvious that design begins with understanding the requirements of the end-user. But in practice, people jump to developing solutions without understanding the complexities of user needs. Take for example the recent policy decision of BRTA to abolish the seating bus system. Before the policy, the local buses would provide a “seating service” that would guarantee a seat for every passenger and no one would have travel standing up. The authorities believed that seating bus tickets were overpriced, and that in principle all buses should offer a similar rate. So, by abolishing it, the authority wanted to ensure a fair rate that would be same for all. But the policy introduced other problems for passengers because to maintain their profit, now buses started to take on more passengers than available seats. Passengers had to deal with crowded buses, which was especially uncomfortable for female passengers, and buses would take more stops to pick up more passengers, causing delays.
There was widespread discontent with the policy, which was revoked within a week. This failed initiative could have been avoided had policymakers used the basic principles of HCD:
- Build on explicit understanding of users and environment
- Involve users throughout the design and development process
- Refine the design based on evaluation from the users
- Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.
- The design team uses multidisciplinary skills and perspectives
Develop Your Solutions with Human Centered Design
So now you know why you feel frustrated with certain laws and policies, and others feel like they are the best thing for the society. Why Amazon, Alibaba, and Starbucks have grown to such gargantuan scale and why products like iPhoneX get cancelled. Because be it brand, company, or government, human need has to be at the core of designing a product, service, process or a policy. Otherwise it is bound to fail. If you are working on solving a problem, whether as jobber or as an entrepreneur or as a policy maker, do make a note about keeping the principles of Human Centered Design on mind.
About Toru Institute
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Toru is an institution dedicated to the future of learning and innovation in the 4th Industrial Revolution. We work towards an ecosystem which will encompass all sectors towards innovation, transformative leadership and inclusion.