Week 6- Human-Centred Design

4 Principles of Human-Centred Design

Nick Babich outlines four principles of Human-centred design based on Don Normal’s talk on HCD, see clip below.

These principles are focus on the people, find the right problem, think of everything as a system and always validate your design decisions.

Focusing on the people means always considering who will be using the product I am designing for. It also means not just considering these people as abstract users but as human beings who will use and interact with the product to accomplish a goal. It is also helpful to keep in mind the product is a tool that will be used to help people reach their goals more efficiently. These people can be identified by simply starting with the questions, who am I designing this for and where will they use it? e.g. time, place, device. This will provide the basis for the development of the user’s journey. A great resource on creating the user’s journey can be found at job to be done.

Finding the right problem is essential as not all problems are worth solving. Problems can be split into two overarching categories: fundamental problems and symptoms of the problem. It makes sense that fundamental problems be addressed first as they will solve the root of the other problems. By investing time on adequate research identify and event these problems I will be able to avoid time spent on fixing or tome waisted on fixing their symptoms.

It is important to think of everything as a system because it helps the designer to avoid focusing on local experiences i.e. focusing on one part of the user’s journey while not considering it as a whole. By thinking of everything a system I will remember to consider all touchpoints e.g. if the user’s product purchase experience is great is can still be affected by poor customer services.

Validating design decisions means testing on real people. This will provide important feedback about what part of the design requires improvement. It is also important to note that family members, team members and people invested in the product cannot be used in this testing process, it must be done with real users (the target audience) to reflect an accurate result.


What have I learnt?

  • The importance of thinking of user’s as Humans.
  • The importance of recognising what the persons goal is that will be using the system.
  • The importance of avoiding fundamental problems and how this can be done by dedicating time to research before designing the product.
  • The difference between fundamental problems and symptoms of the problem.
  • The importance of considering everything as a system and looking at the user’s journey as a whole.
  • The importance of getting accurate feedback.


How can I apply this to my work in future?

  • Understanding user experience and the principles of generating a good human experience is essential to the success of any systems I will be designing in the future.
  • By spending more time on research at the beginning of a project and before finalising my designs I can save time later fixing fundamental problems that could have been avoided and I can gain a greater understanding of the humans that will be using my system and make the appropriate adaptations to my designs to better fit their goals and needs.
  • By considering the entire system as I work on the individual aspect or part of the process I will be able to produce more deliberate and effective designs that will hopefully help the person using my system to navigate their way through and reach their goals more easily.
  • Through prototyping and getting accurate feedback, I can gain a good understanding of the effectiveness of a system before taking the time and spending the money fully developing an app.
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