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Human-Centered Design Principles: the Way to Succeed in Business

Human-centered design principles analyze client's psychology and needs. This allows to create a product that people will definitely buy.

10 min read

Every day, people visit a large number of websites and use various applications for both work and personal purposes. Due to a large amount of information that surrounds a person, every year it becomes more and more difficult to make something truly unique. However, another parameter, personalization, can surpass such a parameter as uniqueness. Making a website or application as convenient and personalized as possible for the user is the primary task for those developers who want to satisfy the needs and interests of users and identify critical user journeys to the fullest extent. To personalize a website or application, the basic principles of the Human-Centered Design process, which will be discussed in this article, can help. For a better understanding, you may also visit the website of human centered design agency.

The Human-centered design approach gives the main place to the user and reminds us that users have their own individual needs, requests and opportunities. HCD is based on four fundamental principles of human-centered design:

  • Orientation to the person (to offer solutions that are most suitable for a certain user);
  • Solving the right problem (treating not a "symptom", but the cause);
  • Systematization (it is impossible to solve only part of the problem without solving the problems of the entire system);
  • Consistency in solving problems (big problems cannot be solved in one action - you need to take small steps).

Human Centered Design Principles

At the initial stage of the product development - the ideation phase - it is important to determine who we are making this product for and in what conditions it will be used.

Example: Let's say we're creating an app for quickly ordering a taxi in a specific area. We made a button that needs to be swiped. After the first stage of testing under normal conditions, we came to the conclusion that everything is working fine. However, in practice, it became clear that people who use this application may hold packages in their hands, and then it will be inconvenient for them to swipe. After receiving several negative comments from real users and analyzing the user journey, it was decided to change the button to a regular one. It is worth analyzing other human-centered design examples to understand the importance of testing critical user journeys.

To offer users a truly convenient and successful product, several important tasks and a research process need to be completed long before its launch:

  1. Determine the requirements - that is, the basic properties without which the application will not be able to work. In addition, you need to think about what additional wishes of users can be implemented with the available resources.
  2. Create a prototype and test it according to user requirements.
  3. Test the prototype in real conditions. You can ask the target users themselves to test the device and give feedback.
  4. Refine prototypes based on feedback and test results.
  5. Make a visual design.

A person

At the stage of determining the target audience of the product and identifying its needs, so-called persons are created. Since the target audience is divided into several representative groups, such a person acts as a representative of each group that has similar needs and experiences.

The benefit of this personal approach is that it helps to identify the basic features that users need. It is important to do this at the Minimum Viable Product stage - since at this stage only the most necessary functions are included in the product, and it can still be improved later. At the same time, in the future, you need to be careful about adding additional functions so as not to miss important points of product refinement.

Prototype

At the stage of creating a prototype of a future product, it is important to analyze the work of competitors in order to determine what important characteristics can be borrowed from them and not waste time developing something that already works.

At the same time, it is important to understand what can be borrowed and what definitely cannot. Some features may not be relevant specifically to your product, so it's definitely not worth copying "blindly" - it is important to analyze competitors' possible solutions and choose from them only those major principles that suit your product and will be useful for your users. For example, if you're making a burger ordering app, you obviously don't need to use the vegan cooking guide that's available from competing vegan food delivery companies as a signup bonus.

A product prototype is created by analyzing competitive products and person's requests, after which it is tested in real conditions of the application. It is important that the prototype is well prepared for testing.

Visual design

Visual design also plays a huge role in the product development system according to the principles of Human-centered design. Therefore, at the prototype stage, it is important to think over the visual features of your product.

The visual product design process is also based on your target audience which will use the product. It should meet the needs of the target audience and answer some basic questions, for example:

  • Is your product aimed at mass consumption or is it premium?
  • What mood should your product create for the user?
  • What is the purpose of the user using your product?

Empathy

An important feature of the Human-Centered Design principles is that the designer must have a highly developed empathy. After all, the creator must be able to recognize what the potential consumer of the product feels and turn his thoughts and desires into an interface of an app or a website of the product. Against any laws of logic, a designer must make a product based on the needs of the target audience - even if the needs of the audience differ from the opinion of the designer.

In addition, invited experts are of great importance, who will help make the product more narrowly focused. For example, if we are developing some complex systems like a mental health app or a motorsport training platform, we need to bring in the right professionals to help us better understand users and interpret their thoughts.

Another important point is that at the product development stage, according to the specifics of the human-centric approach, the main vector of attention is directed to users, and not earnings, as is often the case. Therefore, sometimes the designer has to defend the validity of his ideas and argue with the business. However, with the right product design and adherence to the principles of HCD, products are obtained that ultimately attract more revenue and investment than standard products. So, keeping your product design process focused on humans has a good impact on the success of the product and business.

User-centered design vs. human-centered design

Tips for Effective Product Development

Professionals who work according to the principles of human-centered design advise to adhere to several rules when creating a product:

1. Test ideas in practice

Many people, when creating a project, mistakenly consider their idea to be unique and are sure that competitors definitely don’t have this. However, today, in the era of the information society, it is hardly possible to come up with something truly unique - basically all ideas repeat each other in one way or another. Therefore, it is important to analyze, find and use knowledge to gain a competitive advantage and increase brand loyalty.

Even if your idea seems flawless to you, it still needs to be evaluated from the point of view of the real-world of consumers. Try to understand in practice whether your product will be bought - see how people buy similar products from competitors, find out the opinion of consumers, and draw conclusions.

2. Go beyond personal knowledge

Even if you have an excellent education and you are an expert in your field, there can always be something that you do not know yet or simply do not notice. Therefore, do not be afraid to involve third-party specialists with experience, and study the opinions of people who can become your target audience - then your product will become the most necessary for the consumer.

3. Build a product life path

When creating a human-centered design, it is important to keep in mind not only the target user but also the life your product will have before and after the main purpose, as well as how it will affect other people. For example, when designing a street bench, you need to think not only about the person who will sit on it but also about the builders who will carry this bench during the landscaping of the yard, as well as about the walkers who will see this bench every day while walking past.

Then there will be more questions: how to design a bench so that it is comfortable for those who sit on it? What materials are best to make it so that it is not too heavy? How can design affect the mood of people seeing this bench?

Conclusion

Thus, having considered the basic principles of Human-Centered Design, we can conclude that this methodology allows you to create a product that will meet the requirements of users. The advantage of this product also lies in the fact that it will be sold successfully because users will prefer it to competitors that are less convenient for them.

Of course, there are third-party factors that can prevent users from choosing your product - for example, legal restrictions, price, service instructions, and more. However, in a free market, the most successful developer will be the one who can satisfy the needs of his target audience. With the proper organization of all project creation processes based on the principles of Human-Centered Design, you can also significantly reduce the time and budget of the project.

A number of factors contribute to this:

  • due to the fact that as a result of the analysis a single list of user requirements was created, the entire team working on the project sees the same tasks. This allows you to reduce the time spent on interaction within the team and clarification of various issues;
  • prototypes that are created in the process of working on a project, unlike standard text documents, allow you to accurately determine the timing and complexity of implementing user requirements;
  • feedback from users, which developers receive in the early stages of the project, allows them to correct shortcomings in time, which will be much more difficult to fix in the future. Thanks to user feedback, you can change interface elements, add missing features, adjust the application structure, and so on.

It is important to note that the Human-Centered Design methodology involves the participation of all specialists as full participants in the project. That is why all the activities envisaged by the HCD methodology should be included in the project plan even before it starts. It makes no sense to look for user requirements and organize an HCD cycle if the development of the project is already in full swing, and the work plan is scheduled for a year ahead.

Thus, the principles of Human-Centered Design help turn interesting ideas into popular products and services. These principles make design human-centered, because if a design doesn't work for all the people who come into contact with it, then it hasn't achieved its goal. The principles of Human-Centered Design allow you to create a successful project - after all, success is determined by the satisfaction of users with the created product. It is this goal that the principles of Human-Centered Design realize.