Human Centered Design

Human Centered Design reminded me a lot of Community Based Research. I was a CBRS scholar, and the first step in research was always to interact with the community and hear what they had to say and not tell them what they want. Including community members in for the whole research and design process is crucial because it ensures that the solution being worked towards is making a real impact. Problems can occur when researchers go into a community and decide what is best for the community without any input from the community, but this book seems to address that by urging constant communication and interaction. I do however, find it problematic when a group enters into a community, does objective good then immediately leaves without continuously helping the community maintain the finished product/design. I worry about what would happen if an issue arose and there was no way to address it because those who implemented the design had long left the community.

Goal for Solutions

Before talking with community members, Human Centered Design promotes seven unique mindsets that foster Inspiration, Ideation, Implementation.

  1. Empathy- allows you to really understand and work with people and understand their desires
  2. Optimism- not letting obstacles impede the work being done
  3. Iteration- allows for ideas to evolve and feedback from community members to improve designs
  4. Creative Confidence- trusting yourself, the process, and the people around you
  5. Making It- Use everything and anything around you to create something; creating something tangible
  6. Embracing Ambiguity- There will always be more ideas to improve on
  7. Learning from Failure- You have to fail to understand what works and what doesn’t

With these mindsets in place, the first step in Human Centered Design is Inspiration; this is the phase where designers learn what a community wants and needs. This is where you figure out what you are you trying solve, create a plan, create a cross disciplinary team, formulate questions, do secondary research, conduct interviews, immerse into the community, and decide who and what is important for your specific project.

Next step is Ideation, this is where solutions are first created. This comes from identify recurring important themes, creating insight statements to turn into possible action statements, forming frameworks to visualize perspectives, brainstorming solutions, designing principles, moving from ideas to concepts, and finally creating an initial prototype.

Ideation: Types of Framworks

The final step in Human Centered Design is Implementation. This is where prototypes are tested and perfected within the community and where partnerships/sponsors are found and made. Constant feedback and input from the community is crucial in this step to make sure the solution is actually doing what you set out to do.

Implementation: Monitor and Evaluate

Overall, some of the steps in the process seem a little tedious and irrelevant, but I do understand how they could be helpful for some people. For example, I don’t think making a collage, or a sorting cards is really going to help my design process. But if you are into that kind of thing then the book provides useful resources that can be used throughout the process to keep you organized and on track.

One Reply to “Human Centered Design”

  1. I agree that having some sort of resource for continuing feedback, even after those who have implemented the project have left, is incredibly important. Even with all of the points of contact with a community necessary to this process, it is still possible to overlook long term impacts. It’s also possible not to foresee possible long term impacts if a design project is something relatively new and unexplored. A solution to this might be designating people from the design team as contacts for the community if any issues arise after the team has left, and possibly to have a plan in place for follow up visits and check ins with community members. Despite the focus on people throughout the process of Human Centered Design, if that human connection is not continued even after the completion of the project, it undermine the spirit of the strategy in a way. Continuing contact is an important way to make sure solutions are actually benefitting a community.

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