Diving Into Human-Centered Design
Working collaboratively is always a bit of a struggle, but we all benefit from letting outside perspectives build on our ideas. The Design Kit: The Course for Human-Centered Design by +Acumen and IDEO gave us the perfect platform to be creative and be as collaborative as possible.
Here at Lucid, we took part in a 7-week course with two teams of four. Each team had a different design challenge and worked independently. This included course readings, collaborative assignments, and outside fieldwork.
Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a huge industry buzzword, but actually getting into the logic behind it opened up our minds to problem solving in a new and much more creative way. As a writer, designer, or marketer, you always want to keep your clients happy, but HCD shows us innovation always considers the needs of actual users, not stakeholders.
Our team consisted of a senior account manager, our tech team project manager, a graphic designer, and content strategist. At its core, HCD has three steps: Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation.
Step 1: Inspiration
We researched a topic, interviewed experts, and observed people to try to immerse ourselves in the investigation as much as possible. This is all part of the Inspiration phase. You learn by getting out into the world and meeting with people.
Step 2: Ideation
From there, we moved on to the Ideation phase, where you narrow down what you’ve learned to find themes and patterns. We brainstormed ideas with the information we had gathered and pulled together a very rough prototype for immediate feedback.
Step 3: Implementation
The final phase of HCD is implementation. This is when you actually test to see if your idea is working. Implementation is all about getting actual community feedback. If you totally missed the mark, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board. And that’s completely fine, because at this point you should have enough groundwork laid out to easily switch efforts and prototype a new idea to try again. Designing for humans is always going to be trial and error, but this step will help you to find partners to help strategically execute your designs.
We had several big takeaways from this project, such as embracing failure. You cannot be afraid to fail, and if and when you do, be ready to bounce back with something better. If at the end of the project your design doesn’t suit the people it was intended to serve, you have failed in a much larger sense. HCD changes the way you think and feel about projects. As a team, we created an optimistic atmosphere that allowed for free-flowing brainstorms and open dialogue.
The only problem is taking all of these extra measures can be very time consuming and more challenging to budget. There is no shortcut to success on this route. However, the results have a higher impact and are ultimately more sustainable.
It was truly inspiring seeing how much IDEO.org has done around the world with this methodology. As new projects arise, we will be taking pieces from HCD to improve our creative process and bring something more authentic to our clients along the way. If we can change the way we approach a problem and put humans first, everyone will be better off in the end.
Find out more about HCD at: http://www.designkit.org/methods