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Designing marketable products in the past often included coming up with a concept, building it, and then hoping that consumers would purchase and utilize it.
This strategy often fell short since the final product either didn’t address consumers’ real issues or wasted time and money on features they didn’t genuinely need.
Designers and businesses are now more often using a new strategy known as human-centered design to prevent this result (HCD).
HCD is a mindset toward creating experiences that benefit individuals. The goal of an HCD strategy is to jointly develop solutions with those who will benefit from them the most. The HCD approach must include target users as developers should develop solutions that enhance their quality of life.
In this article, we will better understand what HCD is, why it is important, and key HCD approaches and concepts that product designers may use to create better designs.
Table of Contents
HCD Concept – Image Source: Pinterest
The idea of “HCD” is to develop and innovate products and services in response to needs or issues that will advance human welfare, enhance user experience, and lessen strain or discomfort in users.
In contrast to employing technology or cognitive computing to advance an idea or product, the design process requires human ideation and context at every stage of the problem-solving process.
Although HCD is most often used to enhance or address issues in the health and wellness sector, it is quickly gaining popularity as an approach for evaluating and enhancing the technology we use on a daily basis.
In fact, businesses that prioritize design exceed the S&P index on a yearly basis.
An investment tool called The Design Value Index shows that companies that incorporate design thinking into business strategy outperform industry counterparts by up to 228 percent.
Three components form the basis of HCD:
Designers must truly care about the users of the products they create. Immerse themselves in the group of people who will use their products and services to develop empathy.
In order to address user issues, organizations and their designers must be inventive.
Making your invention or product a successful development is necessary.
Before we examine how it is used to create better products, let’s look at the HCD process.
The process places actual individuals at the center of study and development in the hopes of really producing a solution, which might be a product, system, or service to a real-world issue or gap in the business that has the ability to better the lives of the general public.
The ultimate objective of the HCD process is to have a positive and lasting influence on the target market or community for whom the product has been created.
The phases of the HCD process were developed by IDEO, a worldwide design company that helped Apple produce its first computer mouse, the Palm Pilot, in 1998 and other successful and durable products.
HCD Process – Image Source: ADPList
Inspiration, ideation, and implementation make up the three phases.
The whole process/phases include developing empathy for a target market or gap in the consumer market, coming up with specific ideas for how the solution may most effectively assist actual people, and putting a prototype into action.
In order to create an ideal solution or product that would have a beneficial effect on a certain group or market, the human-centered design process will also incorporate ideas from participatory research and take genuine end-user input into account.
The validation or testing phase is also a crucial step in the innovation process since it guarantees that the general public won’t merely embrace a novel idea or product but that individuals who utilize it will really live better lives.
This first stage is devoted to gathering client feedback. You spend the time to figure out what customers genuinely want rather than creating things based on assumptions about what you believe they want.
Empathy, or the capacity to comprehend another person’s feelings and experiences, is necessary for the aforementioned stage.
To find out what products your consumers are presently using, the reasons and ways they’re using them, and the problems they’re attempting to address, you ought to put yourself in their position and ask questions.
Your audience may be researched using a variety of techniques. For instance, you might design a survey submission form for a particular product on your website pages or, like Apple, send surveys to consumers via email.
Here is an example of how one of the NPS Apple surveys looks:
Apple Survey – Image Source: Medium
You can ask questions such as:
You’ll begin to come up with bold, original ideas with each response. Getting as much input as you can helps you identify trends, habits, and pain points that will help you create the perfect final product or service.
If you’re having trouble getting customers to complete the survey, consider giving them incentives like 20% off their next purchase or a lottery ticket for a free gift.
You might lead a focus group instead of a survey if you’re not satisfied with the surveys. You could naturally learn about problems customers are encountering if you often communicate with them through phone or email.
After doing your market research, identify all minor and big issues that your target market faces—within the scope of your expertise or offerings. Think about the greatest problems your customers have and how your goods may be improved to address those problems.
The first phase’s inspiration will direct you to the second phase, ideation. Based on the input you obtained, you want to generate as many ideas as you can during this phase.
The Ideation Process – Image Source: Viima
When generating ideas, keep in mind that there are no negative ones. The procedure can only go awry if you disregard the demands of your people. This is the moment where you pinpoint possibilities and produce high- and low-fidelity prototypes.
Gathering your team for a brainstorming session is the ideal method to get things going. Teach your team to consider issues from the viewpoint of the user. The major goal should be to work together to develop the one-in-a-million concept.
Consider the following strategies to create a productive and engaging brainstorming session.
The greatest method to explore and innovate is to encourage everyone to express themselves and provide ideas.
Co-creation is one of the advantages of user-centered design. The co-creation method encourages inventive, human-centric thinking and gives everyone on your team a sense of inclusion and relevance.
This is where you write down on post-its and attach all that you have to a wall in your workplace, including consumer expectations, rivals’ strategies, issues, queries, and answers.
Allow your team to explore the workspace at their own speed, consider the data, and take in the necessary understanding to generate creative solutions.
Always keep in mind that this phase’s objective is to identify the ideal issue that you can address creatively.
Bringing that optimal solution to the market is the last step in the process. Prior to anything else, you should think about where and how your consumers desire to be promoted.
In the end, you should try to put yourself in your customers’ position before marketing to them. If I were them, how would you want to learn about this product?
And yet when you make your product or service available to a wider audience, keep asking for and reviewing feedback.
Because the demands and desires of your consumers will continue to change, the iteration process should never stop. The idea is to change to accommodate them.
Maintaining a human-centered development approach will guarantee that you innovate continually and achieve product-market fit (or a product satisfies a strong market demand).
You’ll need to develop a strong marketing plan to promote your product as a long-term remedy to a genuine difficulty since it is centered on the challenges of your target market.
Additionally, you may want to think about collaborating with other companies that provide related products or services to the same clientele. You may provide the consumer with a more comprehensive solution by collaborating with an organization.
Now that you are aware of what HCD is, how it works, and its three phases, let’s go ahead and examine HCD in action—how it is used to create better products.
A great example of human-centered design is Colgate-Palmolive’s toothbrush, Acti-Brush, which was innovative in the 1990s.
Colgate Actibrush – Image Source: YouTube
In the 1990s, Colgate held a stranglehold on electric brushes. However, they lost control of the market. According to their market research, their ideal clients were young people searching for a smaller toothbrush.
Their investigation produced a solution that brought their “Acti-Brush” from position four to position one.
In order to develop a new toothbrush design, the business contacted Altitude, a design consultancy organization that specializes in human-centered designs.
After doing a thorough analysis of the target market, the Altitude team created the Motion, a new, smaller, powerful toothbrush with oscillating heads and an arcing neck.
Whether the design would meet the user’s demands was the central concern of the whole product, from surface characteristics to performance.
In the end, the Motion was effective since it fulfilled the users’ needs for a performance-driven, thin toothbrush that the market hadn’t previously fulfilled.
Spotify Live – Image Source: Spotify
We can’t overlook Spotify whenever we discuss human-centered design and how it is used to create better products.
Spotify transformed the music business and altered how we listen to and enjoy music. Even without recognizing it, everyone required it for years.
It is the first major streaming platform that allows individuals to stream, download, and enjoy music rather than purchase it. With Spotify now, individuals no longer need to purchase tracks for $0.99 or $1.99.
With a monthly membership plan that allows access to millions of songs, users can search for and play any song.
By understanding their consumers’ difficulty in paying for music from many sources, Spotify succeeded in coming up with a workable solution. Some people are even prepared to pay extra for such a specialized, beneficial service.
Additionally, in response to customer demand, Spotify decided to replace “Behind the Lyrics” (powered by Genius) with automatically created real-time lyrics (a feature provided by lyrics provider Musixmatch), making it one of the most impressive displays of human-centered design.
With the Musixmatch feature, you can now view lyrics by swiping up from the Now Playing screen on a mobile device. Image Source: XDA Developers
Customers had been expressing their dissatisfaction with this for months, particularly because Apple Music, Spotify’s main rival, had lyrics available from the beginning.
When it comes to creating custom playlists, finding recommended podcast episodes, and having a simple but attractive user interface, Spotify continues to be the best.
Spotify was successful by understanding its consumers’ difficulty in paying for music from many sources and coming up with a workable solution.
Fitbit Home Page – Image Source: Fitbit
Fitbit is a great example of a product made with people in mind.
Before the advent of convenient fitness trackers, individuals had to guess how many calories they expended each day in order to find the inner drive to go on. But this approach is unreliable.
Unquestionably, the introduction of devices like Fitbit is one of the greatest instances of HCD and how it is used to create better products.
Fitness tracker creators recognized people’s difficulties in monitoring and maintaining fitness objectives and offered a viable alternative. The device is user-friendly and shows the individual how many calories they have burnt, motivating them to work out more.
Participants are inspired and urged to keep going with the use of features like defining personal goals, monitoring and recording activity, and the option to participate in social fitness contests. Fitbit also provides other health-related data, such as pulse rate, skin temperature, oxygen levels, and respiratory rate.
Designing a product or service that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional is crucial, but designers also need to take the user’s experience into account.
A product is more attractive to consumers because of the attention to detail in the user experience design. If a product has a poor user experience, especially those that encourage habit formation, its function will be less effective.
Another breakthrough in human-centered design is Venmo.
Venmo Home Page – Image Source: Venmo
The Venmo app was started when Iqram Magdon-Ismail, one of the two founders of Venmo, misplaced his wallet when the two (Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail) were visiting New York City in 2009.
At the conclusion of the trip, Iqram sent Andrew a check for his share of the costs, and they both pondered the lack of a more contemporary method of currency conversion that might be done with the touch of a button from a smartphone.
Consider how difficult it may be to repay someone—gather cash and present it to them in person, write a cheque and mail it or hand it to them (which they should then deposit). Paypal may be complicated; moreover, bank-to-bank transfers are challenging in the US, unlike in Europe.
The creators of Venmo had an issue that needed to be solved, so they created a solution that other people could use as well.
Their first version of the technology ran through SMS and allowed text messages to be delivered with money. The Venmo app was released in late 2010, and it had a social component as well as a free means to swap money.
The creators demonstrated how simple it was for performers to exchange songs and products during live performances and for teenagers to pay a pal back for lunch at a nearby food truck.
Venmo, which Paypal acquired in 2013 for $800 million, now enables smooth transactions between customers and companies.
Venmo’s Revenue – Image Source: MoneyTransfers
Due to its human-centered design, Venmo has enjoyed considerable growth in income over the last two years. In 2021, Venmo made almost $850 million, an increase of 88% over 2020.
We hope that the information in this piece will enable you to comprehend the idea of human-centered design and how it is used to create better products.
Interestingly, much of the design that improves our quality of life is based on people. This strategy aims to improve user experience and close the gap between consumers and goods.
Designing with the needs of people in mind may be quite beneficial. Ultimately, you are far more likely to develop solutions that satisfy their demands if you understand consumers and their challenges.
Developing a product with the needs of the user in mind is essential for making it feasible, desired, valuable, and usable.
In conclusion, the following are some things you may learn from previous companies that have adopted human-centered design:
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