The Art of Human Centred Design!
A successful design is a successful business . It starts with the micro things; Design inhabits every little aspect of life. Truly great design brings efficiency to the top of aesthetics. The beauty of a design is actually the way it works. When bricks are arranged in a certain pattern, they transform the strength of a wall, just like cells are arranged in a honeycomb. A streamlined edged bullet train captures a supersonic speed effortlessly.
Have you ever stuck with operating a tap in a bathroom or sealed cap of a pharmaceutical bottle? A problem is not the user, it’s in design. It misleads users and ruins the experience! Human-centred design solves this problem!
Human-centred design is key to a successful design. Human-centred design is a design philosophy that puts human psychology at its core. In a day to day life, we tend to use hundreds and thousands of different products. From metal forks and chairs to the graphical user interface, doors, and windows to the giant engines.
Are you using the same kind of wooden chair as your grandfather used? Where are those ink-filled pens? Double-decker buses and ambassador cars! Even those phones with plastic keys have gone. What inspired these modifications? Technology, not really! User experience? Yes! The human-centred design begins with the quality of the user experience. It starts with the human mindset. Technology has been developed for greater human satisfaction. New and innovative products come into the picture not because they are just different but different and better. Innovation doesn’t start with technology rather starts with problem-oriented thinking. How exactly a designer picks up a problem?
Human psychology and Habit formation
Everything starts with human psychology. How we as a human reacts to the daily things? The human brain contains tons of data and it acquires even more at every moment! Just like the phone and C.P.U the human brain has its own limitations. Humans are inherently bad at multitasking. At least, on a conscious level, humans are unable to perform multiple tasks at one time. We might be able to operate a phone while driving but what about juggling the balls at the same time! Even after practicing it for months, it will lead to bad driving and bad juggling! This type of situation is highly imaginary but we often failed at multitasking. Upon subjected to multitasking, the Human brain starts prioritizing things. It tends to ignore the things which are not necessary. Slowly, by performing the routine again, and again we ignore what is less important and unnecessary. We form a habit. While doing push-ups on a rough surface, hands might fill displeasure but we won’t notice it after a month or few weeks. Humans tend to ignore the problem!
Human beings ignore the problems because our brains wish to put less and less effort into the same thing. Psychologically, the process is known as habit formation. But habit formation is also equivalent to ignoring the daily problems. We ignore the noise on the streets, dimming bulb in the bathroom, leaked roofs, and so on! Human Centered approach challenges the process of habit formation. It starts with questioning the data our brain gathers through daily observations.
Observation and ‘Problem Detection’
‘Human Centred Approach ‘starts by noticing the small things. Observation is the first key to successful human-centred design. A designer needs to break the psychology of habit-forming by which the human brain tends to ignore the activities. Once a designer starts focusing on little phenomenon around him, it works as an asset. Observation works as a double-edged sword for a designer. Observation leads to noticing those small imperfections in design and it also inspires the solution.
A ‘mouse’ is not invented in the same way as we use it today. Now, they come in all fancy shapes and sizes, designed specifically different for different purposes such as gaming and designing. They used to be rectangular boxes once! Understanding of ‘palm and wrist movements’ inspired the new designs for a computer mouse. Again, a key to the better design is to understand the problem through observation. The same law also applies to various forms of design. The Interior architecture of homes and cars has modified tremendously since the inception of the Digital era. Remember the initial ‘user interface’ of Facebook and compare it with the once we’re using now. Even ‘user Interfaces’ of various applications have changed drastically in a very small period.
‘Observation’ can be improved through the research context of an application. It’s not possible to detect the problem with a toothbrush by merely watching it from outside. A car looks great from inside and outside but aesthetics doesn’t signify its smoothness while driving. A designer can understand the problem either by his own observation or through someone else’s experience. Interaction with the user is an important step to understand the problem associated with the user. A designer must step into the user’s shoes!
Ideation is as simple as it sounds. Ideation involves researching the various possible solutions for a problem. Once the problem is well-defined, ideation begins. Designers start considering the possible solutions. There are various ways through which ideation can proceed. Exploration of the research context, identification of the target segment, discussion with the users, and market research
‘A learning-oriented education system’ should be discussed with students, teachers, and parents. ‘Designing of a lean manufacturing line’ must consider the particular labours and supervisors. The same follows for every product and service. The key aspect of ideation is to broaden a designer’s view on a solution. Another way to reach a possible solution is to look deep into nature. This process is well known as ‘biomimicry’ and widely accepted in a design world. A chief engineer, who designed the streamlined front of the ‘Japanese Bullet train’ was a vivid birdwatcher. The design is inspired by a Kingfisher’s beak. An Interior of composite materials used in airplanes is mimicked from a ‘beehive’ for their high strength and lightweight.
A final step in ideation is testing. A filtered design approach for a specific problem must be tested in order to repeat the continuous process of modification. Testing is considered an essential part of ideation because it’s unable designers to think beyond the ‘indoor environment’. Design essentially completed in the office or on a desktop computer but it’s not necessary that the user also works in the same identical environment.
Building a Prototype
Prototypes are indispensable tools for designers. Prototyping is the best way to ‘prove the concept of design’, to demonstrate the functionality and a better understanding of the problem. A prototype is the best way of communication with different stakeholders. Prototypes are almost equivalent to unfinished product but much cheaper to build. Prototypes can be tested to understand the quality of user experience. Based on user feedback, prototypes are the best ways to spend less money and time to build an actual product. Prototyping serves as the top in a hierarchy of human-centred design.
The design process must follow the above sequence in order to produce a fruitful human-centred design. Two basic pillars of the human-centred design are an extensive brainstorming at every step and give importance for the user who facing the problem rather than the problem! A designer should consider these two as a prime aspect of creative design. Sustainability of design, cultural influences, and market research hold equal importance while designing. The last and foremost important principle of human-centred design is, ‘ a great design originates with the customer experience to the technology and not reverse’.
The creation of a market viable prototype seems like a final stage for successful human-centered design, but it’s not! User’s views and their needs change over time. The Bestselling phones and cars in the late ’90s are dead irrelevant to current designs! Customer psychology and perspectives have changed dramatically since then. A designer must interact with users to understand their experience with the product. Improvements in human interaction and simplifying its use attract customer satisfaction. It is a continuous process of updating over basic market viable design.
Extraordinary minds work together to produce extraordinary results. The implementation of human-centered design is a collaborative effort. Deep understanding of user motivations, learning while experimenting, and think there is no box’ are basic rules for a fruitful human-centered design. Management of each prime aspect simultaneously is a tough task and it takes a dedicated team to work together. HumCen Co, a global human-centered design company fundamentally values a co-creation. HumCen Co works with individuals, start-up founders, academicians, and organizers to generate phenomenal results. Check out our website for renowned designs and testimonials.